The body-mind connection cannot be ignored. When we’re stressed emotionally, it actually decreases our immunity physically. So, a huge part of taking care of ourselves in this situation means we also take care of our mental and emotional health.
As a licensed professional counselor, I want to make sure to give you some suggestions of things you can do to keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy just as much as you’re keeping track of your physical health.
1. Start Your Day with Truth:
It seems like our level of worry these days is directly correlated with how much time we are spending in the word versus how much time we’re spending watching Fox News and CNN. Personally, I want my faith to always displace my fears. I want God’s truth to have victory over the template of my experiences. I want the supernatural to replace the natural. And that can only happen when I’m filling my mind with truth.
2. Keep Track of Your Emotions and then Express Them to Others:
Studies have shown that there is a huge emotional and physical difference between people who keep their emotions in vs. people who talk through their emotions. Talking through your emotions actually decreases the physical symptoms that those emotions might bring (heart rate, blood pressure, etc).
But in order to talk through your emotions, you have to recognize them. Are you aware of what you are feeling during this time? Take some time to journal about your thoughts and feelings, and then take the next step by inviting someone in. Share how you are feeling with a loved one or a friend, and stay in tune to those important emotions.
3. Sleep Well
Psalm 127:2 was always one of my favorite verses to meditate on when I was struggling with sleep. Maybe you find yourself unable to sleep well because of the anxiety looming overhead, or the thoughts swirling in your mind.
Practice sleep hygiene strategies, and then pray this verse over yourself every night. “He grants sleep to those he loves…” He wants to give you sleep. If you’ve never tried meditation before bed, the Abide Ap is an incredible way to listen to soothing music paired with Scripture. I highly recommend it as you’re trying to fall asleep and clear your mind at night.
4. Don’t Isolate Yourself
In this time of social distancing, it’s easy to feel isolated — because in a way, you are. But in another way, the gift of technology has allowed us to connect with people all over the world.
Are you connecting with people on a regular basis? Maybe you don’t want to feel needy – but consider this: WE ARE ALL NEEDY in some way because we were CREATED FOR RELATIONSHIPS!! Build in a time for phonecalls, texting, and Facetime into your daily routine and be deliberate about checking on people as well as connecting with people on a daily basis. This point is especially true for those of you who live alone.
Don’t let one day go by without connecting with at least one person.
5. Get Your Physical Activity In
The body mind connection shows us that our dopamine and serotonin (the feel-good chemicals in your body) levels increase when we’re active! Make time for daily walks, runs, or a YouTube video workout. Keep your body active because it impacts your mental and emotional health.
6. Make Time For Fun
I was watching a WWII movie a couple nights ago, and one thing that stood out to me in this movie is that while the Jews were in hiding: the BEST day they had was the day they took the time to paint! They painted the walls…because it was the only thing they had to paint. And one girl exclaimed “this makes it almost bearable!”.
It’s important to find fun during hard times. In order to endure the heavy things, we need to take advantage of the lighter things. Make time for fun in your daily routine. Do something you LOVE to do, whether it’s painting, reading, cooking, taking a nap, or playing a game. Bring fun into the stressful moments, because your body and your mind need an opportunity to rest from the heavy things.
7. Invest in Learning
Take the time to “look inward” and do some inventory of your personal health and set some goals for how you want to take next steps in becoming healthy from the inside out. Ask God to help you search your heart, and use this time for self-reflection and self-awareness…and come out of this season a better person than when you started it.
Come out of this season a better person than when you started.
8. Consider Counseling
It would be a counselor’s dream if everyone could use this time in their life to work on their emotional and mental health.
Is there any past trauma in your life? Relationship baggage? Anxiety or depression? Are there family relationships that are strained and in need of tending to? Are there unhealthy patterns, or habits, or behaviors, or addictions in your life that are keeping you back?
Sometimes, it takes the external things to be out of the picture for us to have the courage to focus on the internal things that matter the most.
Consider a time of counseling as part of your self-care plan. Our team of Christian licensed professional counselors will walk by your side and give you the tools that you need to face any personal or relational issue you might be up against today.
9. Think of Others
Having empathy for others is actually one of the best ways you can get through a difficult time for yourself. When you allow your eyes to drift to the hardships of others, it makes your own hardships seem more manageable.
What are some ways you can bless others? Can you leave a care package at your neighbors door? Can you send a card to someone in need? Can you make a call to someone who could use the companionship? What can you do to take the focus off of yourself, and allow it to drift onto others for a little while? Thinking of others is one of the best ways to improve your mental and emotional health.
10. Find What Works For You:
I’m leaving #10 a little open-ended. Here’s why: I’ve seen posts on social media telling people to MAKE A DAILY SCHEDULE, or GET OUT OF YOUR PAJAMAS EVERY MORNING AND GET READY FOR THE DAY or DON’T WATCH NETFLIX AND DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE or READ ONE BOOK A DAY….but here’s the thing, those “rules” don’t work for everyone.
For some people, making the most of this time and taking care of themselves is going to mean pajamas all day….and that’s OKAY!
For others, having a strict schedule brings them more anxiety then peace.
For others still, they need permission to NOT be productive and just enjoy BEING instead of DOING during this season of life (I fall into this category!! I’m productive on a regular basis, so I could simply enjoy a nice break!!)
The key here is this: You need to find what works FOR YOU. Not what is working for everyone else, because that might not work for you and in fact, it might be harmful for you to put all of these strict expectations on yourself. This is the important part of knowing yourself and knowing what you need. Find what works for you, and then DO IT WELL.
DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, bestselling author, relationship expert, and founder of the Debra Fileta Counselors Network. She’s written six books including Choosing Marriage,True Love Dates, Love In Every Season,Are You Really OK?, Married Sex, and RESET. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast answering listener questions about love, relationships, and mental and emotional health. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or book an online session with her or someone from her team today!