Seems like the world before the pandemic never existed. We're in, by far, the craziest period of time in most of our lives. Maybe 9/11 is up there with the current situation, but even such a tragic event isn't quite as surreal as what we're all going through right now.
I recently came across a good quote- “Mental health is just as important as physical health.” ~Unknown
Our main focus during this challenging time is quite rightly on our physical well-being. But we shouldn’t forget about our mental health considering these are stressful times for all of us. I am sure these questions floated in your minds-
Will we get sick? Will our loved ones die? Will we have enough food to feed the family?
How will we pay the bills? How long do we have to stay in? Will things ever get back to normal?
So many questions, so many concerns.
I want to share some good mental well-being tips can help see us through the challenges that lie ahead.
#1: Be Present
Being present means being fully in the moment. It’s not being distracted but engaging with what is.
So instead of filling your mind with worrisome news, tend to see what is going on right in front of you. In this way, you are there both physically and emotionally, which helps keep negative thoughts out of your head.
#2: Feel and Validate Your Feelings
We all experience an increase in uncomfortable feelings during challenging times.
Invalidating our feelings is harmful to our mental well-being. It erodes our self-esteem and leaves us feeling broken and defective. It makes us disconnect from ourselves, and we begin to make all the wrong choices because we no longer know how we feel and what we want.
Staying mentally healthy during difficult times requires you feel your feelings and allow yourself to process them, which means not fighting or avoiding them.
It also means that you must learn to validate your feelings. This involves you normalizing and empathizing.
You do this by telling yourself that it’s okay to have this feeling, and that any human with the kinds of thoughts you’re thinking or the kind of experience you are having would feel how you’re feeling. Tell yourself that it’s okay. That is reassuring.
#3: Engage with Something Meaningful
We can choose something fun, something silly, something creative, something lighthearted. We can come up with new projects or can focus on being productive in some way. We can improve our relationships by having some fun or being caring toward each other. We can play with our kids.
Whatever it is, choose something. Get present and engage with it.
It will take your mind off things. It will give you a break.
Don’t let a difficult situation confine and restrict you.
This is something most of us have in common: We all want to feel that we are useful in some way, that we have a purpose, that we’re doing something valuable.
And there are so many different things we can do to have that experience. But in order to do so, we need to have space in our minds, which requires us to practice being present, to feel our feelings and to validate them.
In hard times, it's important to remember these four words that have rung true throughout time:
This too shall pass.
Of course, that's not the way it feels right now. Logically, you know the lockdown will end and there will come a day in your life where these times are a distant memory, but emotionally, it feels like we'll be stuck forever.
One the one hand, we're all looking forward to the day when this will be all over -- so those words can be solace if you embrace them. On the other hand, it'd be a waste not to draw valuable lessons you can look to in the future.
Keep Watching via live streaming on www.stlukestrappe.org , which connects to St. Luke’s UCC Facebook page.
Until we meet again……Pastor John
PASTOR JOHN HOGUE
Rev. John Hogue is married to his wife Veronica and they have three sons, Daniel, Isaac and Nethanel. Pastor John is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.