Taking care of your mental health amid COVID-19 | Guest column

Submitted by Dwight T. Colley, Psy.D.

Chair, SJC Human Services Advisory Board

It has been a long six months since COVID-19 entered into and disrupted our island lives; and it does not look like it is going to get any better soon. Most of us think we are taking things in stride, but are we? This has been a long haul, a long time out of our normal way of life.

When we spend long periods out of our normal comfort zone, we begin to show signs of cracks throughout our behavior. This is normal. These normal cracks could be signaled by feeling more anxious, feeling grumpier or feeling down in the dumps. Under the current circumstances, these can be a normal response to an abnormal situation not requiring the assistance of a mental health professional. What needs to happen, is for us to look at our response to these uncomfortable feelings; are we having an extra glass of wine, are we criticizing the kids more or are we sleeping too much.

Normally, healthy people can naturally handle these issues themselves once they have identified a problem affecting their lives. The first (and most readily available) help is by just talking to someone — be it a significant other, a trusted friend or a coworker. The first thing you will find out is that you are not alone in your feelings; therefore, a sense of normalcy will return. If this seems too difficult, just get out among people. Go have a cup of coffee at one of our coffee places just to be among people. People are our best source of reassurance, as you will see life is going on, and this is what normally happens even after a traumatic event.

Other ways to help yourself include:

• Take a break from the news; it just repeats itself and the more we hear something over and over it engrains itself, in this case, doom and gloom.

• Make time to unwind; go for a walk or bicycle ride.

• Set realistic goals and priorities as this gives life purpose.

• Take care of your body; watch comfort eating and drinking.

• Focus on facts (social media is full of false information) and listen to science from trusted sources.

If this seems to difficult for you, there are other no-cost sources available to you. For confidential suggestions, https://www.sanjuanco.com/1697/Resources-for-Mental-Health-Support.

Remember, “We are All In This Together,” so why try and get through it alone.