Letter: In crisis, take care of your mental health
To the editor:
We are living through an unprecedented time in our community and our world. Many of us are feeling anxious, isolated and not in control. Many events that we looked forward to have been cancelled or rescheduled, and we are dealing with that disappointment along with concerns about our health and that of our friends, family and colleagues. Although these cancellations are disappointing for all of us, we are actually slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus by reducing opportunities for infection.
This is a time where paying attention to our mental as well as physical health is crucial. It is important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events. We can always choose our response. If you are struggling, here are some tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:
1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news.
2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.
3. Get outside in nature, even if you are avoiding crowds. Spring is coming, and the Berkshires offers countless trails and outdoor spaces where you can hike or walk and maintain distance from other people. Exercise helps both your physical and mental health. Check the Berkshire Natural Resources Council website https://www.bnrc.org for lists of trails.
4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s OK to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
We are in this together, and help is always available. If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Here are some other resources for help:
The Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention website www.berkshirecoalition.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org
National Alliance for Mental Illness Berkshire County https://namibc.org
The writer is president, Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention.