Taking care of your mental health; setting boundaries amid COVID-19

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“If you’re able to laugh at yourself, and laugh at your surroundings, you will come out ten times stronger than anybody else."

MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Many Americans are returning to offices and resuming “normal” as states continue to open up in phases. But for some, the uncertainty of going back may bring on anxieties and feelings of depression.

Dr. Bobby Jain, a psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians, says these emotions are normal and valid. Americans are being asked to re-adjust yet again, after becoming used to life in quarantine.

“Most people, most folks will adapt very quickly,” explained Jain. “In one week – definitely less than two weeks. I think people who have struggled with emotional problems tend to take longer than that.”

Dr. Jain says the restrictions and regulations of the job in an office space, paired with the fear of coronavirus infection, may hinder the performances of some. He advises those who are anxious to return to work inside a building, to reach out to their bosses and have a conversation.

“You’ve got to realize that bosses are somebody’s employee, too. Many of them are just being messengers and not creating the rules. I would encourage you to have a small meeting with your boss and come up with a plan on how you will compensate in terms of work, so that even if you work from home, there will be no loss of productivity,” said Jain.

During moments of panic and anxiety attacks, Dr. Jain recommend the “Mindfulness” exercise. You start by laying down on a flat surface, getting into a comfortable position, and then visualizing your breathing. You can also contract and release the muscles in your body starting from your feet and gradually making your way up to the neck.

You can also help boost your mood, too, with a little bit of sunlight, music, and physical activity. But he says the best medicine of all is humor. 

“If you’re able to laugh at yourself, and laugh at your surroundings, you will come out ten times stronger than anybody else,” explained Jain.

If you find yourself feeling anxious in a crowd of people, Jain recommends politely asking others to respect your boundaries.

“You can offer them masks, and politely encourage them to wear masks, but after some time, you may have to remove yourself and avoid that. And if you’re the victim of such mocking, I don’t think you should take it personally.”

The key to becoming resilient comes down to the five pillars in health: physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and social. Dr. Jain says while mental health awareness has come a long way, there is still more work to be done. 

“We don’t shun away from saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a headache. I cannot go out.’ But we’re really really shy from saying, ‘I’m really down in the dumps today. I don’t feel like doing anything, I don’t have the energy to do it, I cannot focus and concentrate, so I cannot function today.’ Why can’t we do that?”

Community resources:
Texas Tech Physicians
Samaritan Counseling Center of West Texas

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