Tag: self-care

Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Series: Work-Life Balance, Going From Survival Back to Thriving

Written By: Angela J. Patino, Psy.D.

 

The future is unwritten, 2020 is history, and one way we can improve our present is by reflecting on the lessons learned thus far. The following PNBC blog series will focus on highlighting lessons learned from the pandemic, with an emphasis on mental health.

 

While we continue to recover from the whirlwind year of 2020, the increased vaccination rates have a provided our communities a pivotal moment in the pandemic. Of course, in no way is the pandemic quite over, yet, the aftershocks are still very present. However, many states have re-opened, schools are expected to resume in-person this fall, and the employment sector is in a hiring/rehiring spree. Some individuals never stopped working – hats off to all essential workers! Some are slowly getting back into the grind. While others are trying to figure out their return to work. Whichever position you find yourself in, IT IS OK. Remember the year we all just had?

 

One of the first crossroads that many individuals faced at the start of the pandemic was maintaining a work-life balance. Now, maintaining a work-life balance was already a tough task for most, even before the pandemic. Combining the promoted work culture of high productivity, eating meals on the go, long work hours, and answering emails after hours, is a recipe for disaster. For many, especially for parents of school-aged children, this balance continues to remain in “survival mode.” As we enter a different phase of the pandemic, a new normalcy is settling in, and this work-life balance needs to switch back to a “thriving mode” for the sake of our mental health. The following recommendations bring light to different aspects of our day-to-day work environment and interactions that can be used to help achieve a more aligned work-life balance and decrease burnout.

Time management

What are your working hours? Are you sticking to them or running over time more often than not? Do you take your meal break or eat on the go? It is important to give yourself enough time to complete your duties and set appropriate resting points. Prioritize tasks into urgent vs non-urgent. If you find yourself frequently having trouble meeting deadlines, this may be a sign that you are doing too much and there may be a need for delegation.

Assertive communication

In connection to the last point, if you have too much on your plate, speak up! Being assertive in the workplace is vital as it allows you to speak your mind, share your ideas, express your needs, and wants in an effective, respectful, and clear manner. Hostile work environments feed on passivity and aggression. Assertive communication is a great way to place boundaries, which brings us to the next point.

Place healthy boundaries

From your labor rights to professional etiquette, learn when to say no. Prioritize what is important to you. Is staying an extra hour worth missing out on _______? The same can be applied at home, do you feel overwhelmed with household chores, can some duties be delegated to a partner or roommate?

Let go of perfectionism

Do you have perfectionist tendencies? Perfectionism is difficult to achieve, and someone who takes pride in perfecting their craft, may have difficulty clocking out. This often leads to long work hours with limited personal time, a perfect combination for burnout. A great read for embracing imperfection is “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown (link: https://brenebrown.com/thegifts-hub/#close-popup).

Make time for exercise

The documented benefits of exercise are exhaustive; no, really just do an engine search! A healthy body = clarity in mind = improved mood = better you. Prioritize your exercise as if your health depended on it.

Relaxation

What do you practice to promote relaxation? Yoga, meditation, music or just deep breathing exercises help us recharge and obtain mind clarity.

Sleep

Are you getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep? Or are you answering emails during your usual bedtime? Similar to exercise, sleep is crucial to our overall health.

Nurturing relationships outside of work

Positive social support is also important to our mental health. Research has shown that social support helps ward off the effects of stress on depression, anxiety, and other health problems; this is especially so for women and older adults (Cohen, 2004; Harandi et al., 2017). People found creative ways to maintain social contact during the pandemic, be it through a glass door, parking lot car-meal meet-ups, or videoconferencing calls. Human nature calls for human connection.

Time-off

This year brought unprecedented times in more ways than we can count. Even taking just one day off to unwind and detach from work can have positive effects on your mental health. It is important to realize when it is time to “take a break, before you break.”

Seek professional help

If you find yourself struggling to maintain a work-life balance, especially through the pandemic, you are not alone. None of us could have predicted the challenges that have come our way this year. Ensuring your mental health is being managed properly is important. If you think that talking to a mental health professional about your struggles may benefit you, PNBC is here to help.

 

The following hotlines also provide free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: English 1-800-273-8255; Spanish 1-888-628-9454

San Diego Access and Crisis Line: 1-888-724-7240

 

References:

Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 674-84.

Harandi, T., Taghinasab, M., & Nayeri, T. (2017). The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electronic physician, 9(9), 5212–5222. https://doi.org/10.19082/5212

Hart, S. (2020). The Differences Between America’s Working Culture and the Rest of the World. The National Digest. Retrieved from https://thenationaldigest.com/the-differences-between-americas-working-culture-and-the-rest-of-the-world/

Making Self-Care a Priority 

It is hard to believe 2021 is less than 90 days way. This year, with all of the many challenges, seems to be flying by. With the transition to working from home, many employees have found themselves even busier than when they were working in the office. Add to thatschool-aged and/or college-aged distance learnersand perhaps another adult or two also working from home, you can begin to feel like an afterthought in your own mind. The demands for your attention, your great ideas, your support, your space, your time…can feel endless. It is easy to get caught up in the next thing on your to do lists, help a colleague with the new account at work, volunteer for that special committee, or other ways you prioritize other people’s needs over your own.  

When you continue in these cycles of constant giving, without taking time to refuel or refill yourself back up, the quality of your giving can deteriorate without you realizing it. Your patience may run thin, your temper may shorten, and before long the “giving” that once gave you pleasure, now feels exhausting. Simple acts of self-care can keep you energized and strengthen to thrive even when it feels as though you are constantly giving. 

What is Self-Care?  

Self-care is intentionally being good to yourself; taking care of yourself in a way that is sustaining for youThis will look different from person to person, and that is okay. What I need can be different than what you need because we are different people. Self-care is not being selfish, particularly if there are many people around you that need you and rely on you. It does not have to be an expensive purchase or all-day adventure…although those could certainly qualify as self-careThink about the last time you boarded an airplane and found yourself waiting for the flight to take off. The flight attendants begin their safety presentation and give instructions on how to use the oxygen masks if they become available. The flight attendants instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with their oxygen mask. Why? Because to help others, you need to have already been helped yourself. Prioritizing your self-care is essential when there are demands on you to care for others around you. 

How do you do it?  

Start small. With the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, there may not be very many options available outside of the home, so use what you have or what you can easily obtainIt may be easiest to incorporate self-care in activities you are already doing. Think about ways to enhance the things that you are already doing and be intentional about experiencing the pleasures in the moments. Perhaps use an aromatherapy body wash and inhale the relaxing or rejuvenating scent while showering. Or, take a few extra minutes and run a warm bath and add essential oils, bubble bath, or soothing bath salts. You need to bathe, so why not take a few moments to enhance the experience before going to bed or starting your day? When you have your morning coffee or afternoon tea, take a moment to walk outsidebreath in fresh air and enjoy the flavor of your warm (or iced) beverage. When you are out grocery shopping, pick up a new fresh herb to add to your pasta or saladgrab a new sauce for your protein, or grab that fruit or vegetable you have all ways wanted to try. These small actions can have lasting impact on you, your well-being, and the care your give to others. 

 

What are some ways you can begin to practice self-care? 

 

Written by Takisha Corbett, Ph.D. Dr. Corbett is a clinical psychologist at Pacific Neurobehavioral Clinic, PC.

 

 

neuropsychology and psychology clinic

Tips on Managing COVID-19 Anxiety

The world is collectively living through an event unlike any other experienced during our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we are living our lives. We are living in daily uncertainty, facing something largely unknown to us still, in constant concern over our health and the health of our loved ones, and for some, grief as well as added stress and pressure over finances and meeting our basic needs. All of this while being stuck at home (in some states and countries) and having limited or no access to our support systems (friends, family and other loved ones) and the places and activities we enjoy; it is the perfect recipe for increased mental health symptoms and needs.   

Thankfully, many people can continue to access mental health services via telehealth* (see below for more information). In addition to mental health services, self-Care is something you can do at home to help relieve anxiety, stress and other mental health symptoms you may be experiencing as a result of the pandemic and social distancing regulations.   

Self-care can be defined as things we do that we enjoy and help us relax. These are unique to each individual, but here are some examples of self-care:   

  • Having a video call with your friends and family 
  • Watching a movie or show that brings you positive emotions 
  • Engaging in a creative outlet of your choice 
  • Taking a relaxing bath 
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Reading enjoyable books 
  • Having a virtual book-club 
  • Meditating 
  • Cooking 
  • Getting restful sleep 
  • Playing games 
  • Practicing yoga 
  • Exercising 
  • Getting outdoors, safely, while practicing social distancing and following your local regulations 
  • Skincare 
  • Listening to music 
  • Playing instruments 

It is easy to forget about practicing self-care, so it is important to schedule it into our days. A minimum of one self-care activity a day is recommendable, particularly during high stress or high anxiety times, such as the one we are currently living through.  

First, you can create a growing list of things or activities that are enjoyable and relaxing for you. Then, create a weekly schedule of self-care based on those activities, or, alternatively, pick one activity from that list every morning, to engage in on that day. Writing down or sharing your plan with someone can help you commit and follow through. Having a self-care buddy, even a virtual one, with whom to practice self-care, can also help you follow through and hold yourself accountable, in addition to potentially making the activity more enjoyable. You can face-mask with your friend via FaceTime, do online gaming with a loved one or work out with a buddy, for example. Get creative and make it fun! Practice self-care consistently, on a daily basis, and notice what difference this makes for your mental health. Taking care of ourselves is always important, and even more so when going through difficult times. Make the time to do this, as much as possible, to reap the benefits.    

*You can reach out to your health insurance, medical care provider or mental health care provider, to inquire about telehealth services. You can also search for mental health providers that offer telehealth via Psychology Today or Therapy Den. We are currently accepting new telehealth patients at PNBC.  

 

Additionally, here are some mental health resources available free of cost: 

Disaster Distress Helpline 1 (800) 985-5990 (también disponible en Español) 

Access & Crisis Line 1 (888) 724-7240 (también disponible en Español) 

2-1-1 San Diego Dial 2-1-1 from any phone (también disponible en Español) 

San Diego County Behavioral Health Resources 

 

Additional stress coping tips can be found on the CDC website.

 

Written by Taina Aceves, LMFT.