31 Mar Four things to do when we need to stay mentally healthy in a crisis
Four things to do when we need to stay mentally healthy in a crisis by Dr Henry Cloud*
When you go through a crisis, the first thing to go through your brain is, “Something has changed, and everything is different!” So, how do we adjust and adapt?
How connected you feel to others is fuel to life. In order to thrive, we have to have safe connections to other people so we can relate to them, and them to us. The entire foundation of human existence is the degree to which you are connected to other people. If you’re practicing social distancing at home, and I hope you are, make sure you’re taking time to reach out to your friends, your family and the people who give you life. I encourage you to use Face Time, Zoom, Google, etc.
Also, my heart goes out to those of you who are working in essential industries right now. It is my prayer that you stay safe and be well during this time.
Our brains function well when there is structure. All of life has a structure, and our lives are designed in a way that performs best when there’s order. Right now, many of you have lost your routines, and you’re struggling to find normalcy. As you adjust to being at home more, or perhaps working more than you expected to, try to find an order to it, a pattern that your brain acclimate to. Maybe you decide to wake up at a certain time and get ready for the day. From there you may make breakfast, go for a walk, talk to a loved one, etc. Your new routine doesn’t have to be rigid; be kind to yourself and show yourself some grace.
We know the effects of what it feels like to be out of control. Your brain cannot reach its highest level of functioning when you’re riddled with anxiety. It’s difficult for you to be productive. You can’t operate at your full capacity. When you feel like you don’t have control, your options run thin, your brain activity changes, and it becomes negative. And while we can’t control what other people do, nor control the circumstances of the COVID-19 virus, take some time to reflect on the things you do have control over.
4. Set limits
When you feel like you’ve lost your connections, your structures, and your control, it creates the perfect storm for sending your mind into a negative spiral. You may be inclined to stay glued to the television, the internet and any source of information about the COVID-19 virus, but I want you to know that the more you expose yourself to the news, the less likely it will be helpful to you. Maybe you feel like you’re staying up-to-date, and that’s fine to check in a couple of times a day. But put boundaries and set limits around what you’re watching and how often.
Something I want you to keep in mind is that this moment that we’re in right now is only one scene that’s part of a much bigger movie. This isn’t where the movie ends. You have to play it out. The future may look different, but we’re going to get past this.
* Dr Henry Cloud is an American Christian self help author. He co-authored Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life in 1992 which sold two million copies and evolved into a five-part series.
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