How to Protect your Mental Health in...

How to Protect your Mental Health in Times of Crisis

by Mara Hurst
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Recently, the world is in a state of distress. With global warming, wars, and political issues, how can we tackle these problems and still take care of ourselves? It is a truly wondrous thing that people around the world are doing everything they can to help one another and protect the space around them. However, in doing this, people often forget they must take care of their mental health. How are we supposed to help solve problems if we are not in our best state to do so? Author Bryant H McGill put it best: “Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.”

Many psychologists acknowledge that people have something called “The Window of Tolerance.” This window is also referred to as your comfort zone. When we take on too much, and we push ourselves outside of this window, we risk going into a fight or flight response, or a freeze response. The fight or flight response is a result of too much stress. And rather than taking time to wind down and relax, you keep pushing yourself and start feeling things like anxiety, anger, and frustration. The freeze response is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Freezing is when you push past your limits and then start feeling numb and tired. It can result in you not wanting to leave your bed, or falling into a depression. Staying within your window of tolerance is vital to caring for your mental health. Notice the signs of when you are reaching your limit and do your best to bring yourself back into your window.

So now that we know more about the window of tolerance, what tactics will help us stay in the window?

  1. Get off of social media

With social media becoming so accessible and popular, it almost feels like you can’t escape it. Any big change or issue in the world is immediately posted and shared across all platforms. No matter where you look, the issues are always hitting you. A quick fix is to take a break from social media. Log off for a few hours, and reconnect to the space around you. By putting your phone down, even if it’s for half an hour, your mind will slow down and grounding will become much easier. If you have no way to see the issue, then you can’t pick up on new things to stress about.

  1. Practice Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques

When you are overwhelmed, your mind goes into overdrive and it may feel like you’re losing all control. And although it feels that way, there are easy tricks for you to get back into the driver’s seat. First and foremost, remember to breathe. It sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? We’re breathing all the time, why would I need to remember to breathe? The trick is to do it consciously. Don’t just let your body do its thing; take charge and focus on taking deep breaths. An easy pattern to follow to relax is to breathe in for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of four, and exhale for a count of five. By doing this, you’re already taking some control of yourself.

When we hear all these negative things, it’s seemingly impossible to find anything good. Take a few minutes, and list off anything in your life that is good or that you are grateful for. It can be anything! If you have a wonderful pet, or ate an amazing lunch, those are such positive things that are happening. Completed an assignment, or achieved a goal? Give yourself a pat on the back and remember how amazing that is. By looking at positives often, you are training your brain to be more optimistic.

  1. Talk with someone

You are not alone with your anxieties about the world. Millions of people are feeling the exact same way and are trying to take care of themselves while hearing about all these problems. So, reach out to somebody. Even if it is just a friend or family member, they will be able to offer advice. And if not advice, some comfort and support. Which is really what we all need a bit more of right now. If you are finding talking to friends is not helping, there is absolutely no shame in reaching out to professionals. The stigma around therapy and professional help is diminishing daily. Seeing a therapist can benefit your mental health and will help you find tactics to relax.

Overall, with the things happening in the world right now, there is no surprise or shame in feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Finding tactics that work for you is so important, and hopefully some of these suggestions are a good place for you to start. Anything you are feeling is valid, so do not be ashamed of worrying about the world – it makes you a caring and kind person. Just remember to transfer that care and kindness to yourself.

Leave a comment!