May is Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s ok to not be ok

It’s also ok to be sad, to be disappointed and to feel vulnerable. It’s also ok to feel pessimistic, overwhelmed and maybe a little bit numb. And it’s also ok to be worried and anxious.

While we’ve now experienced the new “normal” of Safer at Home due to COVID-19, it’s ok to feel those feelings.

But most importantly, know that it’s ok – and that you’re not alone.

In May, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take a collective opportunity to spend some of our minutes at home talking about mental health and well-being, and giving one another permission to be compassionate and empathetic for all of the emotions we might be experiencing.

Put on your own oxygen mask first. How are you taking care of yourself? Then, how are you taking care of your family, your friends, your neighbors, your (virtual) coworkers and the face covered strangers you encounter on the street?

Give yourself permission to feel, before you compel yourself to feel better.

While the headlines might say otherwise, amidst this health and financial crisis, there are plenty of people who are doing small things to make a big difference in the well-being of others.

More than ever, we need to take care of one another. We need to check in. We need to safely engage with our community – however we define it. We also need to relax, already. And finally, we need to know the signs if someone is struggling, and how to help.

Beach Cities Health District will be your guide this Mental Health Awareness Month, with virtual events and educational opportunities – we just need you to join the virtual conga line. From a safe distance, of course.

You’ve got this. And we’ve got you. Let’s help one another with knowing that its ok to not be ok. And let’s start by talking about mental health.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, or text TALK to 741741. 

More mental well-being tips from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health:

  • Be gentle with yourself, and with those around you. Try to be mindful of how you’re feeling and acting on a given day and forgive yourself for the times when you might not be at your best. Recognize that this is also the case for those around you, and work to forgive them, too.
  • Stay calm. Try to be a source of calm for your loved ones, especially in front of those who may be looking to you during this difficult time (such as your children or close partners). Practicing mindfulness can help you stay calm.
  • Limit your social media and COVID-19 coverage intake. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media feeds or staying glued to news coverage, find a few trusted sources that you can check consistently (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization) and set limits on your consumption.
  • Set a routine for you and your loved ones to help build consistency. Create expectations for yourself and your family by involving them in daily activities (cleaning, learning, schoolwork). Ensure this routine involves space for fun and/or relaxing activities, too! Take breaks and allow yourself to do things you enjoy.
  • Reach out to your support networks. Strengthen relationships with friends and family, your colleagues and spiritual groups by using technology.
  • Focus on controlling the things that you can. We cannot control the future, nor should we let uncertainty drive us to hopelessness. We can fight this by concentrating on what is within our control —re-organize your closet, start a new creative project, create new and healthy habits, etc.
  • Try to stick to as regular a sleep schedule as possible. Even if you’re not going to sleep and waking up at the same time you normally would, try to standardize it — aim to get to bed by a certain time each night, and wake up by a certain time each morning.
  • Weather permitting, try to get outside at least once a day. Go outside, even if it’s just a walk around your backyard or spending some time sitting on your front steps. If you are at a high risk (e.g., are elderly, immune-compromised, etc.), or living with someone who is at a high risk, instead try opening the windows.
  • Develop a self-care toolkit. This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell), so try coming up with at least one thing for each:
    • For touch, a soft blanket or stuffed animal.
    • For taste, a favorite snack or drink.
    • For sight, a picture of loved ones or from a fun vacation.
    • For hearing, make a playlist of your favorite songs.
    • For smell, a scented candle or essential oil diffuser.
  • Find at least one thing to feel positive or grateful about every day. Start with finding one thing that makes you smile, laugh or feel good each day, such as a funny YouTube video, a heartwarming story or a song with a hopeful message. To double the impact, share your positivity with others.
  • Figure out a way to help others. A lot of research shows that helping others is a great way to help yourself. There are many ways to help others in your community.

Remember — this is a new normal, but it is a temporary normal.

THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2020 provided by Beach Cities Health District

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