This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager.
Since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic period in which we all began working from home and self-quarantining, we’ve shared about five posts on some variation of mental health.
- In a Pandemic, Podcasts Have Become My Refuge and My Classroom
- Using Art as Therapy While Navigating Chicago’s Two Pandemics
- May is Mental Health Month
- Useful Mental Health and Self-Care Mobile Apps
- Taking a Step Back to Breathe
- Expanding Horizons: Executive Order Options for Mental Health Access
To myself, it sometimes feels like you can be beating an old rug that has no intention of producing any more dust from its crevices, and yet, every day I’m reminded of the fact that I need to be reminded.
Early on, I thought I’d reached a comfortable point in this quarantine thing…I was working from home, waking up each day, cooking dinner, working as best I can and trying my best to continue indulging in healthy habits (I embarked on a 6-week workout program via Onnit and lasted until week 5) as well have successfully continued to bicycle on a mostly daily basis (I’ve ridden 943.6 miles so far this year).
However, over the past few weeks, I discovered I was wrong about that “comfortable point.” My sleeping has been terrible. My concentration has been nill, and my anxiety through the roof in general. Eventually it began to affect everything else, including personal projects, my abiliity to focus during work hours, and as of my typing this, I’ve done 4 bike rides in the past two weeks (whereas since January I average 3 rides a week).
First and foremost, I’ve had to openly admit to myself, and others that my mental health has been precarious at best the past few weeks. From there, I’ve steadily worked, day by day, sometimes minute by minute, to prioritize my mental health and wellness.
Speaking of which…how is your mental health these days?
If the answer is “not good,” first and foremost, let me tell you that you’re not alone. From there, here are some tips that I’ve been working to incorporate (certainly not an exhaustive list…it doesn’t mention the handy dandy sleep mask I dug out of storage in search of more restful sleep) into my own life, courtesy of New York psychologist Eileen Feliciano and the organization Parents Together, who brought most of these tips to my attention.
Unlike many of my friends, my laundry expenses haven’t diminished much at all, because I make it a point to get dressed every day. I have split my clothes into two categories: lounging/relaxing clothes and work clothes. My work clothes usually are pants/jeans and a graphic t-shirt (step down from my actual in office attire of khakis and a button-down shirt), but it definitely signals to my mind that it’s time to go to work. According to experts, getting dressed and sticking to a routine everyday is super important. “It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood,” says Dr. Feliciano.
Also important: Eating healthy and getting regular exercise. As I mentioned before, I did 5 weeks of the Onnit 6 bodyweight workout program. It’s intense, but completely made for people at all possible fitness levels. However, if that’s not your thing, as long as you’re getting 30 minutes of movement a day you’re set — dance parties in your kitchen totally count.