• Shelley Oto

Mental Health as a Priority During the Era of COVID-19

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

My current occupation is in the #experiential world. I'm watching my industry fall and friends are being laid off daily. I live in Los Angeles, and I have a number of family members with compromised #immune systems who live in Northern California, meanwhile my sweet grandmother passed just a week ago who also lives in NorCal. How are we going to celebrate her incredible life during the era of COVID-19? Digital funeral? I don't think so. To make matters more challenging, I can't visit my family, as I'm fearful that I could be a carrier and not know it. #COVID19 is reported to be so contagious and it's made me constantly worried about my mom and family. Some of my family members are in isolation completely alone and all I can do is call. I've experienced a number of varying emotions ranging from #anger, to sadness, fear, #compassion and the list goes on. Coincidentally, my boyfriend moved in from New York the same week as the mandatory "stay home"orders were put into place. I absolutely love having him here, but this is a unique circumstance we both did not expect. Although my story is much lighter in comparison to the current events happening all over the world. I realized that life is changing very quickly, and I became clear surrounding how intentional I had to be with my time during this crisis.

I haven’t been active on social media very much over the last several weeks. Watching the news regarding the chaos and pain occurring everyday around the world has left me numb and speechless. I’ve been taken aback by the turn of events, rolling news updates, and the impact COVID-19 has had on the world economically, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Like most people, my heart has been heavy for those suffering and for those who have lost friends, family members, and co-workers. I have been feeling a deep #humanizing empathy for those who have lost their jobs or have had their hours reduced so significantly that it’s made it impossible and challenging to pay one’s bills. This can happen to any one of us at any time.

We are living in a world where we are all very concerned for our family and friends and especially those with compromised immune systems. Loved ones are suffering alone in hospital beds and dying alone daily. There are also those who are desperately attempting to honor the many who have made a tremendous impact but have passed.

Everyone’s world has shifted. Many individuals are now working from home and a majority of their day is spent looking at a digital screen, while also homeschooling their children, leaving little time for one’s self. Endless video conference calls populate the universe each day. Post-work shifts turn into dinner time and bedtime duties.

We’ve been confronted with a rare situation where the entire world has been put on pause. During this time of prolonged isolation, have you made new observations regarding your surroundings, relationships, thoughts, motivations, and yourself in a world where self care equates to survival? It’s time to refresh our thought processes and take an inventory on how we see each other and the world. As someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, I believe that we are all supposed to take something home, much larger than what meets the eye, from this situation.

As our society heals, I pray for the preservation of everyone’s mental health during this crucial time. Our collective mental health is gold and should be treated accordingly. The state of our mental health will be a key driver in helping individuals and communities survive and overcome this crisis.

What are people across the world doing to preserve their sanity, calm their anger and/or ease their #anxiety and depression, as they rear their ugly head? All natural feelings; however, I believe that we’re living at a time where the world has the potential to fall victim to acquiring incremental mental health challenges if everyone is not cognizant and proactive in doing what it takes to cleanse their mind. I believe that the information we consume on a daily basis all contribute to how we function each day. Just as we're fighting for our bodily health, one has to fight just as hard for mental #PEACE.

At first, as a result of being confined to my home and having more free time, I found myself binge watching series after series of distracting television shows. I looked forward to my news alerts each morning and would obsessively scan the countless number of news apps throughout the day. I started with the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Huff Post, Business Insider, NPR and the list goes on. In turn, I found myself falling into an up and down spiral feeling lost, reactive, and in anxious desperation to find grounding. Prior to COVID-19, I seldom watched television. I read almost every day and only reviewed the news apps occasionally. I realized I needed to be more intentional with my time for the preservation of my mental health. To me, that meant monitoring my choices throughout the day.

Quickly, I switched my routine. I created a schedule that allowed me to keep track of my time. This schedule included balancing my work with my personal time to watch TV, read inspirational books by authors I love and respect, write about things that matter to me, listen to motivational podcasts like Super Soul Sunday and connect with friends and family. My boyfriend and I created a schedule inclusive of walking 2 times a day and eating together every night. As a result, my spirit feels light and healthier at the conclusion of the day.

Knowing for oneself how one wants their wellness and mental health to look like at the conclusion of this crisis, is the first step; as it'll dictate how one spends free time available starting with ... now.

I encourage everyone to be more intentional with their time. The 30 minutes spent staring at a News App could be spent doing something that lifts your spirits and inspires your soul. One’s emotional, mental and spiritual states are truly priceless. During this time, making time to be mindful for the sake of one’s mental health is an investment in the present and the future. As a society, we will all have to be active participants in rebuilding what’s been broken. Through love, compassion, and community we can do this; but we have to keep our most priceless weapon and strongest ally intact, our mental health.

#mentalhealth #peaceofmind #covid19 #healing #awareness #inspiration #slowdown #coronavirus #corona #livelife #bepresent #inthistogether #Love #selflove #community #awareness #support #possibility #humanity #love #vibration #empathy #balance #newnormal #survival #quarantineandchill #pandemic #yogainspiration #liveyourbestlive #stayathome #washyourhands #mindbodysoul #nourishyourself #selfcaresaturday #selfcaresunday #resilience #personalpower #yougotthis #depression #anxiety #quarantine

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