The biggest Mental Health challenge of all time is happening right now.
This is a freaking unprecedented time to say the absolute least. We will always remember that one time when the world shut down...sports cancelled. Concerts cancelled. School cancelled. Pack your ish and go work from home. Everyone. Stay inside.
We're social creatures by nature. So telling a social creature that they must NOT be social, presents some unique circumstances.
Now more than ever, it is important for us all to keep to ourselves, and practice "social distancing" - a term that will no doubt live in infamy for years to come.
Note the key word in that phrase - social DISTANCING. That doesn't mean social ISOLATION.
Be mindful of your mental health during this time of uncertainty. Things are changing in the news by the hour it seems, new cases are being reported, death tolls are rising, and there is a great amount of overall panic and hysteria on the news and social media that can test anyone's anxiety levels. But there are ways to manage this in a safe and healthy way.
WHAT CAN YOU CONTROL?? Focus on it.
FIRST AND FOREMOST - Worry about the things that YOU personally can control. ONLY YOU. You cannot control the free will and apparent stupidity of others. You can't control the fact that shelves are void of toilet paper.
LIMIT THE NEWS - You can't control the news - but you can control your consumption of news. Try to limit your exposure to the social media and news. This is a fluid situation and with so many developments, misinformation can happen that causes needless anxiety. If you do have to check news on the regular, use things like the CDC or John Hopkins University. These sites are updated with factual information and statistics updated several times per day.
LIMIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA - Do you really need to hit refresh and see all your Uncle George's crazy conspiracy theories and memes? No. It's adding to your anxiety and creating scenarios in your mind that are unnecessary.
YOUR ATTITUDE - this is in your control, and it's just as contagious as the COVID-19 virus itself. Laughter is contagious. Happiness is contagious. Hope is contagious. Believe me, if you have a positive attitude and focus on the NOW instead of the "what ifs" in the world right now, you will make a change in your life and your friends life.
It may seem easier said than done, but if you worry about the things that you CAN control, you will be much more at ease mentally. LET GO OF THE THINGS YOU CAN'T CONTROL. Really. It's incredibly liberating.
If you find yourself STILL overly anxious about everything, check out this article from a positive psychologist at PENN University. He broke down FOUR STEPS to remaining calm in times of uncertainty. READ IT HERE. It's amazing.
As I said that the beginning, the is the biggest mental health challenge of all time. We are all being forced to live a "new normal" - even if it is temporary, there is an adjustment period - like anything new. The good news, this whole thing IS temporary, not forever - and none of us are in it alone - we are all in this together.
Check on your friends - reach out to them. Again - social distancing doesn't mean social isolation. Check on your friends who live alone, they are lonelier. Check on your single parent friends who are juggling working from home with kids at home and losing their minds, they are busier and more anxious. Check on the older people in your life, grandparents - parents, etc. They are scared too. Be there for one another. It's really the only way we can all stay sane through this.
We need each other now more than ever - we are facing the biggest mental health challenge of all time.
Are you up for it? I sure am.
Wash ya damn hands!