A friend and I gave a presentation on mental health today to a group of bright young STEM students in high school and college, and that got me thinking about the state we’re all in right now, and some ways we can handle it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that things that are ordinarily minor stressors are having a big impact these days. I was really upset that the grocery store didn’t have my preferred brand of half-and-half, for instance, and I nearly lost my mind the week they didn’t have any bananas.
The triple whammy of the pandemic and its associated issues, the persisting horror of racism, and the upcoming election means that we need to be really kind to ourselves. Things that would ordinarily be irritating may unhinge you. You may find yourself eating and sleeping less well than normal. Maybe you’re grumpy and more on-edge than usual—I’m often glad I’m wearing a mask when I’m out because I find myself cussing out other people for their terrible sin of walking on the same sidewalk I’m on. (I mean, how dare they?)
I’m also dealing with figuring out how to feed my aging Yorkshire terrier through a feeding tube, which is nobody’s idea of fabulosity, but it does make me slow down, scratch her ears, and just sort of be in the moment with her. For all that I’m squeezing a syringe of strange-smelling food through a tiny hose, it’s oddly relaxing. (Part of that may just be that she’d been refusing to eat for nearly a week, so it’s hugely comforting to know she’s actually getting some food.)
So this week, if you find yourself stressed about anything at all, I encourage you to take a freaking break already! Go for a walk, read for an hour, watch a favorite TV show—but definitely not the news, since the last thing we need when we’re at low-ebb is to be reminded of why. If you can, knock off work or your job-search early one day and do something you enjoy instead. If you don’t have that luxury, just make sure it’s a clean break from work to not-work, and really enjoy your time away from the job. I’m a bit worn out from all the screen-time, so my breaks have been more like walking the dogs or having a glass of wine, but if Grand Theft Auto is what relaxes you, go for it!