This is the first post in a while...for good reason. We have been BUSY! This year, I vowed to slow down, restore, and re-focus. It is interesting that in the third month of my "slow down with intention" we get a global pandemic on our hands to deal with. I am ready to help. I am here with a clear mind and (very clean hands) to assist others with their anxiety and mental health during this time of uncertainty.
I have been serving the mental health population for over a decade, with years as a certified crisis worker, and currently a clinical supervisor and practicing licensed mental health counselor in the RTP area of North Carolina. This pandemic is a mental health issue just as much as it is physical health issue. People are scattered right now emotionally, the uncertainty seems to be the common thread. Will things be cancelled, will I be able to work, will someone in my family get sick?
Yesterday, I took a long walk around my favorite lake nearby, and noticed the energy shift in the air. People were smiling as I passed them like they usually do. Some were clearly connecting with me more intently, almost as to say, "it is all going to be okay"..with our eyes...
I am a preparer. I am a planner. I am also a health care provider who treats anxiety and crisis management. I believe in preparing for my family and myself, so I may serve others...
This week, I have been reminded that being mindful and practicing mindfulness is key for managing our chronic stress and crisis mindset. Some of the core components of mindfulness are:
Identify what is in your circle of control- prepare mindfully, wisely, and enough for you to feel comfortable. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and identify ways that you can release what is out of your control with grace.
Self compassion- (it is okay to be a little worried, anxiety can be a good energy source if harnessed correctly). Be kind to yourself with your thoughts.
Pay attention- (to the right information) keep up with the positive and action focused news not the scarcity mindset followers. Energy is more contagious than viral infections! Negative group think will affect you if you are overexposed. Limit the information you get to the experts.
Practice distraction and self care- Be aware of yourself and your mood and if you are overwhelmed take a break. Hey, we are not supposed to be in large crowds..what a great excuse to stay off the grid, take a hike, go camping, or an extra long walk in the park...
We have been teaching mindful hand washing as a portable self care anxiety relief option for years. In our Dialectical Behavior groups we would do self soothing hand washing examples of how to regulate our emotions using our five senses. What a great excuse for self soothing bubbles and scrubbing those bad feelings away with a nice lemon scented soap.
Since the beginning of the "don't touch your face" recommendation..I can't tell you how many times I have had an itch or wanted to touch my face! MINDFULLY I have said to myself..sit with the urge, notice it, don't react to it...and it passed...This is such a powerful way to practice something that is already so good for us! Mindful awareness of the present moment (and good hygiene).
Check in with your health care providers for support. Many of us in Wake County NC, my counseling practice included, and even the Veterans Administration here in Durham, are offering TELE-HEALTH during this time for those who feel overly anxious and need medical attention.
This is a mental and physical health care opportunity to be centered, wise minded, and refocus on what really matters. Compassion and human kindness.
For us, this weekend will be full of hiking at the nature park, visiting local small businesses to help ease our pending financial economy crisis, and enjoying a little "introverted" off the grid time to rest and recover.
Jaclyn Fortier, LCMHCS