We are living through some crazy times right now.
COVID is rampaging through our country unchecked and rioters are trying to take over our government.
Right now, it seems that up is down, and down is up – and this has been going on non-stop for a long time. We are lonely, frustrated, and angry. Some of us are losing hope that things will ever be “normal” again which is all doing a job on our mental health.
Oh yeah, and I forgot to add that it’s winter so it’s even get outside to communicate with our friends from a distance.
How do we handle this?
Years and years ago, I had an experimental bone surgery where they took bone from my hip and inserted it into my lower leg (the result of being hit by a car when I was younger.) I rejected the bone graft (even though it was mine.) When your body rejects something, it’s not like having a sore finger because you have a splinter in it, instead your entire body rejects the object. You are sick. Everything hurts.
I was in non-stop extreme chronic pain to the point where I could barely function.
I went to a pain counselor who was able to show me that I still had control over my life. She helped me create a pain plan with sequential steps on what to do when the pain was getting out of control and I couldn’t think straight.
The plan started off with “lower level” actions, “take Motrin, lie down, watch a movie, use heat” and continued with more aggressive steps “take pain meds, call the doctor.”
I suggest that everyone create a 2021 Coping plan that would include a list of things to do so that you don’t slip into darkness.
Some important things you can do include:
- Eat well, drink water, and get exercise – every day.
- Speaking of exercise – there are plenty of free YouTube exercise videos that you can do at home. Try to establish an exercise routine.
- Stay on top of your medications – now is not the time to skip doses.
- Get out of your pajamas each day
- Create a to-do list each morning – don’t just include work items, include things like “do laundry, pick up the living room.” If you put tasks on a list then you will remember to do them (and the joy of crossing them off when done is worth it.)
- Talk to a friend every day – write down a list of your friends and cycle through them. Texting and email is fine but listening to a friend’s voice is important.
- Join an online group – with the advent of zoom there are tons of online cooking groups, book clubs, and discussion groups. The good thing is that you don’t have to be there, if I want to join a book club on the Cape, all I need is the zoom link.
- Write a letter to a friend, in this day of online everything, handwritten letters are so appreciated.
- Write in a journal – the act of putting your thoughts on paper frees them from your mind.
- Check in on a neighbor to see how they are doing and if they need help.
- Tend to a plant or a pet – both need to be nurtured.
- Watch a good movie or TV series.
- Listen to music that makes you dance.
- Read a book – you’ve got time and if you can find a good one you will be transported to another world.
- Go for a walk – as crazy as things are, the world is still out there. Even in the winter there is plenty of nature to observe, just be careful of the ice.
- Watch the alcohol, oh sure, it may feel good for now, but alcohol is never a good coping mechanism.
Lastly, if you are overwhelmed with everything that’s going on and you can’t seem to function, talk to your physician or contact a therapist. If necessary, there are some medications and techniques that could be helpful.
And sometimes just having a different set of eyes on your situation can give you a new perspective.
It’s not going to be easy getting through these turbulent times, but if we look out for ourselves as well as each other, it will certainly be that much easier to bear.