By Jen Astion
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time for each of use to tune into our own wellbeing in this stage of the pandemic. Dan Mosley, Disaster Mental Health volunteer for the King County/NW Region Red Cross, reflected on some of the challenges we are all facing in the spring of 2021.
“The pandemic has been going on for a long time. People may be feeling overwhelmed. Many people continue to feel pretty isolated. Most kids were not able to go to school in person for a year. We haven’t had the kind of social opportunities we usually have. All of this is wearing on people,” he explained.
At the same time, Mosley sees many reasons for joy. “The vaccination rollout gives people reasons for hopefulness,” he said.
Mosley encourages people to reflect on what they were able to do during the pandemic. “It will add to people’s resilience if they make a note of what they are doing now that they had no clue, they would be able to do. We all gained some skills. Many of us were not using Zoom and Teams a year ago. Give yourself a check mark. We have been making the most of virtual connections,” he said. “When museums and movie theatres closed, some people have found they enjoy walks in nature,” he added.
Moreover, some folks have appreciated the slower pace of the past year. “Not all of us are extroverts. Many introverts appreciated facing fewer social obligations,” he noted.
Mosley shared some tips to nourish our wellbeing going forward this year.
- Recognize what you have done to cope over the past year and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Next, take some time to reflect. “Life gets hectic. Take a few minutes. Maybe write in a journal. Be quiet, be mindful. It can be hard to put yourself on pause but taking time to reflect is always productive and healthy,” he explained.
- Pace yourself. “You may be feeling pressed to make up for lost time. Maybe you are planning to drive across the country,” he noted. Even with the easing of travel restrictions, reflect on how you want to spend your time.
- Express gratitude to those around you. “Research shows that people who take time to reflect on gratitude are happier people. There is something every single day you can be grateful for,” Mosley explained.
- Take a social media break. “A healthy approach to media includes limiting our intake,” he advised.
- Finally, check in with family and friends on the phone or in person. “Recognize the value of person to person contact with loved ones,” he concluded.
Red Cross volunteers are encouraged to reach out to the Disaster Mental Health Team for support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.