4 Positive Mental Habits to Try as the Pandemic Continues

It’s officially been a year since we have all been living in a world impacted by COVID-19. Pandemic life has demanded so many of us to change our routines and essentially the way our day-to-day life unfolds in some big and small ways. The usual ways we relied on to provide us with a sense of comfort, support, connection, community, leisure, entertainment, and basically to cope with stress are either no longer available to us or perhaps we aren’t willing to take unnecessary health risks for ourselves and loved ones. When this all started we had no idea this would last this long. We were okay with making the changes we needed to thinking it was a short-term adjustment. We weren’t prepared for the marathon of a year and then some of having to live amidst a pandemic. The toll the pandemic has taken on our overall mental health is pretty darn significant and we need to start normalizing whatever trauma responses we are experiencing. Denying how hard life has been over the past year is doing nobody any good. For the past year, many of us have been operating in survival mode and leaning on less than ideal ways to cope and deal and just get by week to week. Many of the coping mechanisms we might have been using are probably only sustainable for a limited amount of time and could use an upgrade. That short period of time is now over. Building new routines and structures in your day that are actually sustainable is where your energy will be best spent. Here are four mental health habits to help you do some spring cleaning in your mental and emotional space. 

  1. Put down your phone. Turn off your laptop. Step away from technology. Do yourself a favor and give yourself permission to disconnect from your devices. You will not be missing out on anything. Pick a realistic time during your evening that you decide you will disconnect from technology until the following day.
  2. Learn and practice mindfulness skills. A mindfulness skill is simply a practice that invites you to make contact with the present moment and take a break from being wrapped up and consumed in your thoughts. It’s a way to pay attention to what’s happening in the here and now. A simple deep breathing exercise where you slow down and connect with your body and shift your focus to your breath can be helpful in interrupting negative, anxious thoughts or the sense of feeling like all you do is rush through your day from one thing to the next. Mindfulness is about not missing out on your life.
  3. Don’t believe everything you think. Our thoughts are powerful influencers in our daily existence. So many of our thoughts get in our way of making positive choices and moving towards our big and small goals in life. We operate under the assumption that if we have thought then it must be true and that’s simply not the case especially the self-critical, negative thoughts.
  4. Tend to your garden. Our mind is our garden and what we plant and water and nourish will grow. What we neglect and give little attention to tends to fade. The goal is to pay attention to and water the positive, self-affirming thoughts while weeding out the not so helpful thoughts. Fill your garden with positive affirmations and inspirational, uplifting messages. Seek out people and influencers who are doing the same. Surround yourself with positive messages.

4 Tips to Cope with Anxiety After a Breakup

The end of a relationship, any relationship, can be a difficult journey to navigate. There are some contextual factors happening right now that likely make it even harder to deal with and manage our feelings of sadness and loss…the pandemic, quarantining, social distancing, working remotely, wintertime, other losses related to the pandemic like loss of communities and certain social circles, loss of employment, loss of certainty, and the list can likely go on. Bottom line over the past year we have collectively been living in a season of grief and loss so adding another loss to that list might just feel like the icing on the cake. So this first tip might not seem all that magical yet it’s important for us to take the time and acknowledge our own feelings. 

First things first, it’s time to Normalize all the feelings you are experiencing right now…all of them…your anxiety, your sadness, your overwhelm, fear, anger, and whatever other feelings that are coming up. Chances are this relationship was meaningful to you in some way otherwise you wouldn’t be bothered by the break up and reading this. You have the right to your feelings and just being able to acknowledge them and give yourself permission to be as upset as you are about your relationship ending is okay and good. You might be thinking why on earth would it be good for me to acknowledge all my feelings isn’t that just gonna make it worse? No, it’s not. Before you can effectively move on and move forward, we have to face the discomfort of our feelings and in order to face these feelings you first have to acknowledge that they exist and that you’re not crazy for being this upset about the breakup. 

Now tip number 2: Lower your expectations. Oftentimes we develop some really unrealistic expectations for ourselves and in this case, you might be holding yourself up to some unrealistic expectations of how you think you should be managing the breakup. Stop it! Whether this is the first time or the ____ th time you find yourself going through a breakup it doesn’t matter. Breakups are hard. Breakups often invite us to look at parts of ourselves and our relationship past that we just rather not look at. It also doesn’t matter if you were the person that did the breaking up or were the one that was broken up with, you likely have some sorta feelings about that relationship ending and a vision of how you think life should go on post-breakup. It’s okay for life after a breakup to go differently than you thought it would. You don’t have to bounce back. Practice some self-compassion. Take a deep breath and then take another deep breath and if necessary look up some deep breathing exercises to practice. They are really helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety. Meet yourself wherever it is that you happen to be…not where you thought you’d be or where your mom/friend/sibling/coworker thinks you should be…it’s okay, you don’t have to be anywhere else than exactly where you are at in life. The more you can challenge the unrealistic expectations and create realistic ones the better you are gonna feel because when we create realistic expectations we are inviting ourselves to experience some sense of success and achievement. When I set unrealistic expectations of myself I set myself up for failure. When I set realistic expectations for myself the more likely it is that I can meet that. So just be real with yourself. 

Tip number 3:  Attend to your basic needs. Our basic human needs to function daily include food and water, sleep/rest, clothing/shelter, and safety. Managing anxiety effectively will be incredibly challenging if you’re starving, sleep-deprived, dehydrated, and are in an unsafe situation. Do not go on that diet, cleanse, or whatever “wellness” strategy you might be inclined to do. Feed yourself multiple times a day. Your body and brain need the energy to regulate stress and your emotions. Drink plenty of water. Caffeine or alcohol will only make your anxiety worse. Do your best to keep healthy sleep hygiene. We need sleep to regulate our emotions. Do pay attention to your environment. If you are physically unsafe your first step in managing anxiety needs to be in seeking support and resources to help you be safe. If you don’t know where to reach out for support there are 24/7 hotlines and community crisis centers available.  

Tip number 4: Remind yourself that feelings and emotions are temporary. You will survive this breakup. While it may be really uncomfortable in the moment and it might feel as though whatever it is you are feeling and thinking is going to last forever, it doesn’t. Gently reminding yourself in moments when it feels overwhelming that “this is temporary” can be just the message of reprieve you need to hear. 

Wanting more support to learn how to navigate your anxiety more effectively? Email me at