For Better Mental Health, Build Resiliency Into Your Routine
Published on May 14, 2021
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month
Even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 drop significantly and vaccinations become widespread, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on mental health. During National Mental Health Awareness Month, NewBridge Services encourages individuals to tend to their mental well-being by developing healthy routines and getting professional help when needed.
“The pandemic has had a cumulative effect on our psyche over the past 14-plus months, and its consequences in terms of loss, isolation, and insecurity persist for many people,” NewBridge CEO Michelle Borden said.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, four in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic — up from one in 10 pre-pandemic. Between August and December 2020, the percentages of adults reporting anxiety and depression symptoms increased significantly, according to a Centers for Disease and Control report.
“This is a time to take simple actions to foster resiliency, such as calling a friend, going for a 20-minute walk, and sitting quietly for five minutes or more,” said Borden, a licensed clinical social worker and disaster response crisis counselor.
“It will take intention on the part of individuals and the support of community resources to reverse the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Borden said. “As I’ve said throughout this crisis, the goal is for each of us to find balance in the midst of the imbalance.”
Returning to pre-pandemic routines will in and of itself be stress-inducing for some people. As conditions improve and restrictions relax, many people may need to ease slowly back in, while others are ready to take the plunge.
Creating a daily self-care routine can go a long way toward managing stress and anxiety. Here are strategies that can help:
- Accept that you cannot control everything
- Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones
- Take short timeouts to inhale deeply and exhale slowly
- Reach out to a friend or family member daily
- Move your body and get your blood flowing
- Choose healthy meals and snacks most of the time
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Establish a regular sleep routine of 7-9 hours a night
- Relax the half hour before you head to bed
- Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques
- Get professional help if stress and anxiety persist
NewBridge Services’ licensed clinicians are available in-person or through telehealth sessions. Call 973-316-9333 to schedule an appointment. (NewBridge accepts most insurances.) Visit NewBridge’s repository of information and advice for maintaining wellbeing during the pandemic, including guided meditations. Mental illnesses can affect thinking, mood and behavior. They include: anxiety disorders like phobias; mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder; behavioral disorders like ADHD; personality disorders, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; and trauma- and stress-related disorders.
Mental Health America offers free online mental health screening tools to help people determine if they have symptoms of mental illness.
Preventing Suicide: Five Action Steps
If you suspect someone is having suicidal thoughts, talk to them. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends these five action steps:
- Ask. While it may feel awkward, ask, ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?’
- Keep them safe. Keep them away from lethal items and places.
- Be there. Ask questions and listen to what they are thinking and feeling.
- Help them connect. Make sure they get in touch with a mental health professional or someone very close to them.
- Stay Connected. Follow up with the individual afterward because that can reduce the risk of a subsequent crisis.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), or New Jersey’s round-the-clock suicide prevention hotline at NJ HOPELINE, 1-855-654-6735. Crisis chat is accessible through the website.
About NewBridge Services
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a leading provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey, helping thousands of children, adults and seniors each year. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; helps children who have been abused and neglected — and their families — heal; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its 58-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.