The Very Unmerry Month of May
We are certainly living through difficult times, perhaps one of the most challenging in history. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across the world and our country and shows few signs of letting up. With no therapeutics or a vaccine, venturing outside has become frightening. I limit my excursions to early morning walks with my dog Kovu, given that I am a high-risk individual. For the first time since New York’s lockdown, I ventured out with Keith to take in Albany’s tulip fest, albeit from the car. I actually felt carsick from not having ridden in a vehicle for such a long time.
For many, May has always been a difficult month. Mother’s Day and the surrounding festivities can be extremely hard for those who have lost their moms or for moms who have lost a child. It can also be tough for those who, for any number of reasons, did not have the mother they deserved. Mother’s Day often brings a sense of profound loss.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. We tend to push mental health issues under the rug. Much like certain other illnesses, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t seem to exist. While many experience some depression or feelings of loss during this month, daily life in the face of a pandemic can exacerbate these feelings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures, and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, and what the future will bring.
Many are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And if you are predisposed to mental health disorders, they can worsen. It’s important to learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.
While professional help is certainly available, there are ways you can help lessen stress. Here are some helpful tips recommended by the CDC to managing stress and coping with change in our daily lives:(1).
• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body by taking deep breaths, stretching or meditating; by eating healthy, well-balanced meals; by exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep.
• Make time to unwind. Start with activities you enjoy like painting, knitting, or reading.
• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
For me, sticking to a daily routine has helped keep me busy and away from all the “what if” thinking in this uncertain time. I also try to focus what I can do, not what I can’t. While I am unable to hold my newborn grandson Rory, I am able to see him from a safe social distance. I know his brother Liam is watching over him from above. But most of all, try to stay positive and find the beauty in each day.