Taking Care of Your Mental Health When You’re Overwhelmed

If you’re anything like me, you may be overwhelmed by the news lately. Many of you work on the front lines during this pandemic and confronted every day with a difficult and harsh reality—people are hurting. As you’re living away from home and possibly away from your support system, you may need to find ways to stay centered. Below are five tips with resources that I hope help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

1. Write (in pen!)

There are a couple different approaches to this one. You can take the time to journal your thoughts. Journaling can be a very grounding exercise to help sort out your thoughts and get to the root of what specifically is overwhelming you, and maybe knowing the root is a helpful starting point. Write a letter to a friend or family member. Even though you can’t see loved ones other than virtually, you can still connect with them the old-fashioned way. The exciting “I got snail mail!” feeling never goes away. It might help you feel better to know you’re making someone you love happy, too.

2. Meditate

Meditation can be tricky when you first start, but it’s worth a try. Extensive studies have shown that people who meditate generally lead happier lives than those who don’t. Meditation enhances the flow of constructive thoughts and positive emotions. Even a few minutes spent meditating regularly can make a big difference. Scientific evidence supports this claim: extensive studies were conducted on a group of Buddhist monks as they were meditating. The pre-frontal cortex of the monks’ brains (the part associated with happiness) was found to be extra active. For guided meditation, many apps are available for download via Apple and Android including Headspace, Calm, and Mindfulness.

3. Update Your Notification Settings

One of the reasons I’ve been feeling overwhelmed is based upon how much information is coming at me all day. Between Apple News, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it’s a lot to filter through! The sheer volume of information, especially the subject matter we have been hearing about lately, can drag you down. Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in staying informed. If you find yourself feeling more anxious than normal, I’d recommend adjusting those notification settings on your phone so you can control when you see news–whether it’s good or bad. This leads me to the next tip…

4. Change Your Feed to Positive

There are so many places you can subscribe to for good news. John Krasinski from The Office put together a limited series called “Some Good News”, and you can find episodes on YouTube. It’s lighthearted and fun, and focuses on the good in the world. Other news outlets that boast about good news include the Good News Section on HuffPost, and the Humankind section on USA Today. The goals of these outlets are to give you the warm-and-fuzzies, which we all need sometimes! They’ve been helpful for me to follow along with.

5. Get Lost in a Story

My particular favorite stories to get lost in are books. I like thrillers and fiction and biographies and fantasies (hello, Harry Potter.) I find that keeping my mind occupied and caught up in something other than reality is a nice break. If reading is not for you, there are so many accessible TV shows, podcasts, and movies right at our fingertips. Audible.com is a website that enables people to listen to books on tape, and sometimes, it’s the author reading the book they wrote! If you sign up, you get your first three books for free. Podcasts can be found on Audible as well as Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Netflix and Hulu have what seems like endless hours of content for entertainment. According to Business Insider, it would take a person over four years and 36,000 hours to complete watching everything on Netflix.

I hope this information is helpful to you. The news of current affairs can be overwhelming, and it’s important to take care of yourself. As an Aureus Medical employee, temporary blogger, and human being, I appreciate all you have been doing working on the front lines. Please know your dedication to your careers and to your communities does not go unnoticed. Cheers to looking up from here!

DISCLAIMER: This is for informational, educational, and marketing purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional therapy, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/mental health condition.

Sara Goldsmith is a Team Lead for the Medical Laboratory division at Aureus Medical Group.

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