May was Mental Health Awareness month and this year eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental health is more important than ever. The world is in the middle of a pandemic. All of us are facing changes and uncertainties in our lives. Mental health rates are on the rise. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed please remember you are not alone and there are so many resources out there to support you.

Being a teacher during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. Teaching is my passion. Going to work every day and making a difference helps me get out of bed in the morning. When I found that in person schooling was done for the year I was worried about the mental health of myself, my students, and my fellow coworkers. I knew I had to make the conscious choice not to let an uncontrollable situation control demolish all of the effort I had put into loving myself and loving the life I live.

Winter months can be hard for me and this winter, prior to COVID 19, I struggled with gastrointestinal issues that made it even harder to stay upbeat every day. I had started to slip into old depressive habits. But I had been here before I knew what to do! I cried. I shared with my boyfriend and close friends how I was feeling. I took a mental health day from work. I started attending therapy. I talked to my Dr. about increasing my SNRI medication. I started eating better again. I was determined to get back to the gym. I started feeling me again and I was happy! What am I going to do now with no work and not being able to go anywhere?

I didn’t handle the unknown well at first. I became obsessed with listening to every press conference, reading every article, checking the daily COVID-19 totals at 2pm daily. Crying and feeling even more anxious as the numbers increased. The negativity was winning. If I continued like this I was going to have a break down! So I implemented more strategies to support my mental health.

The following things have helped me stop the pandemic from taking over my Mental Health:

  • Zoom/ video chats-  I have always been self conscious about seeing myself on video chat. I’m not usually a fan of Facetime. Let me just say I overcame my insecurities fast when there was no other way to socially connect with others. I began to look forward to Zoom chats with members from my gym, friends and family, coworkers, and students.
  • Virtual Self Love Beauty workshops and events: I have participated in all the virtual workshops Self Love Beauty has offered since March. Connecting with other women and continuing to set goals and focus on improving my self love journey is important to me. These workshops have helped me stay positive and focused on things I can control at the moment.
  • Coloring – Why have I not jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon yet?!?! This has been such a huge anxiety reliever. I colored over 60 positive quotes and images in the past two months. I am mailing them out to friends and family in hopes of spreading positivity.
    Therapy – My therapy sessions were held through teletherapy. In the beginning my sessions were bi-weekly and they are now monthly. Just having that one hour a month to talk about anything I need to helps tremendously.
  • Walks often with my dogs and started Couch to 5K – At first I wanted to set high fitness goals for myself during this time. I wasn’t reaching them and started to feel worse about myself so I decided to start out small. I take more walks with my dogs and am preparing to run a 5k by the end of summer. Getting outside and having some physical activity is huge.
  • Allowing myself to feel my emotions but not allowing them to consume my life – Not every day has been perfect. Today I cried 4 different times for random reasons. Staying home all the time is not always easy. I have days when I am irritable, days when I am anxious, and days when I am sad. I acknowledge my emotions and move on.
  • Deleting negative people from facebook – This has been huge! There is so much negativity and controversy on social media currently. In the beginning of all of this I was getting wrapped into it but realized that it only made me feel worse. The unfollow feature on facebook is a life saver! Do what you have to do to preserve your sanity and own mental health. It is not unselfish to unfollow a friend that is always negative.

Although this time has brought great difficulty and many uncertainties I am using it as a time to improve myself. I will continue to grow in my self love journey and will see the positive of living during a world pandemic. I challenge you to do the same.