I didn't mean for it to happen this way, but my blog today is about how I'm trying to stay mentally healthy- and today is the day we were supposed to be on the plane, on our way to sunny, Florida for an amazing Spring Break with some of our closest buddies. How do you stay mentally healthy when your trips are cancelled, you're losing money (from VRBO and from missing work), you're worried about your friends and family (especially my dearest friend Jen who is on the frontline), etc? The list goes on. Many of you know- I struggle with depression and anxiety. This pandemic is and will continue to hit those of us who struggle with mental health hard. I'm not here to say I have all the answers and I certainly have no formal training in the area, I just have experience.
So what does my experience say to me? If I allow my brain to go to dark places- I will tell myself over and over again all manner of things that could send me to bed and not want to get up. Some of you know that feeling and know what I'm talking about. The easiest thing for me to do would be to climb in bed, pull the covers over my head, and hide (and sleep). The struggle is real and it's not just "made up" or "laziness." That's the bad part of this struggle. I know it's hard to acknowledge those feelings when people are getting really sick, dying, and close loved ones are on the frontline. However, these feelings (I believe) need to be acknowledged and dealt with. I believe (again no formal training) that in these times, we need to take some time to grieve- grieve the loss of the above mentioned things. Take a moment to acknowledge those loses- take a moment to feel selfish and wallow in sadness. I did. I had a really good cry (could probably start crying again if I let myself) and some angry words and that was it. What's next?
What is next? Again- my personal experience and no training- what was next for me was letting go and adopting a positive attitude. I don't know if it's who I am or who I made myself become- but I don't hold on to things. I rarely hold a grudge, I don't stay angry, I typically see the best in everyone, and I try to see the best in most situations. The Rona is testing all my limits but these are some things I've done and will continue to do to stay healthy.
I know that I covered this in my first blog- but it was mostly about staying physically healthy, but exercise does so much for our mental health. Blah Blah science- but here it is. "For some people it works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn't enough for someone with severe depression," says Dr. -Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. High-intensity exercise releases the body's feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the "runner's high" that joggers report. But for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. That kind of activity spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. "In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression," explains Dr. Miller.
Besides my normal running, I've been walking with some of my closest girl friends. We stay 6 feet apart and do not go into each other's houses. Lately we've even been bringing the dogs and that's been great for my mental health. Time to exercise and talk... perfect combo.
It makes me feel safe and secure to have a routine. It helps me get out of bed. For me, the most important part of my routine is knowing that my coffee is on and waiting for me downstairs. I know silly- but I prepare my coffee the night before and having that done in the morning starts my day off. After my coffee- I go to my desk. I set up an office space in our sun porch. There's always some business that needs to be taken care of or this blog to write. I love having a space of my own and it's part of my security. The rest of the day goes on pretty much the same every day ( so far). Exercising, working with the boys, project time, puzzle work, working around the house on a project of the day, reading time, dinner, games, movie, bed.
Shout out to Puzzles that Rock! Best puzzles out there... check them out! https://puzzlesthatrock.com/
There are so many free wonderful educational opportunities going on right now it's hard to mention them all. If you're in the profession- these are some of my favorite opportunities. There are several for massage therapists. https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/1/News/detail/3781/free-massage-ce
There are also free waxing courses https://the-wax-chick-academy.thinkific.com/collections/courses?q=
There is a free course from Yale that I'm taking right now and it's called the Science of Well Being. So far it's been an interesting look at Happiness- Which is exactly what I've been trying to do during this shelter in place. https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
Nature, outdoor projects
This doesn't need much explanation, just get outside. Look at your yard, watch the wild animals, put bird food in your feeders, think about where you're going to plant some new plants and start them from seed inside. You have time! Get your hands dirty. That's good for my soul.
There are many other ways that we can stay mentally healthy- I've seen a great movement of sewing masks for health care workers and I might start that as well. Find your routine, find your projects, find good books or magazines, find great recipes. Find yoga and meditation. Find what is going to fill your cup and that of your family's. Stop being mad- make the best of it! There are great GREAT things happening all around us.
Tomorrow- beauty in the face of The Rona.
Much love and gratitude.
This is the Year.....
I've never written a blog- never considered writing one, but I'm feeling compelled. Why? Well, I think this would be a great place to blog my forty ninth year. Yep- 49. I keep telling everyone that I am having a hard time with this age, but the person who I feel the worst for is my mom. She will have a daughter, that in 2020 will turn 50.