May is mental health awareness month so lets talk emotional protective equipment

May is mental health awareness month, so lets talk about emotional protective equipment to get through these very weird and strange times.

As many people come back to work after after this pandemic "we're all in this together" is both true and untrue.  Yes, the pandemic is a global experience, but it's also very much an individual experience.
Your race, socioeconomic status, where you live and whether or not you have children all have a dramatic impact on how you're responding in the face of a pandemic.

Personal protective equipment is one thing to protect us as humanity and flatten the curve, but what about emotional protective equipment?

Many people have lost many things; health, freedom, jobs, businesses, family, and friends, so we are dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief at an epic level!!!

This brings about stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder that follows.

The good news is we have the opportunity to transform this into post-traumatic growth.

We can practice skills rooted in stress management, mindfulness, and self-compassion.  The first step is awareness that the current circumstances are stressful.

Exercise, eating right, regulating sleep, and keeping a routine is more important than ever to create a resilient community of immunity!

Next, we can practice self-kindness.  Instead of thinking "I can't do this anymore", "This is too much for me" not only makes you feel worse, the thoughts are simply not true.  Would you ever say that to a friend?  Instead you might say to yourself "I've made it through tough times before and was okay", or "I can still thrive in the face of uncertainty" or "I've got this and I'll be stronger on the other side".
It's important to know that you are not your thoughts.  It is simply a thought that comes and goes, a fleeting moment, so acknowledge it, name it, and let it go.

Be mindful of the amount and quality of media you're taking in and try to remain somewhere in the middle.

Help people feel safe including clients and employees.  First, focus on physical safety by following COVID-19 guidelines specific to your state.

Make sure employees feel psychologically safe.  Listen to the people who work for you.  Don't dismiss their thoughts, feelings or concerns.  Ask them what they need.  Be trustworthy and transparent.

Finally, acknowledge cultural, historical and gender issues.  Crisis like this are typically the hardest on people who are already marginalized.  Real voice, influence, power and equity for minorites and women are especially critical right now.

The collective trauma of the pandemic is not behind us.  The messy prospect of reopening and processing is ahead.  We can't predict what the future holds, but we can support our collective resilience and mental health.

As individuals we can develop our emotional protective equipment.  We can support our people and reflect on the gross inequities highlighted by the crisis and rally around the worthy caus of addressing them.

Short videos on depression/anxiety/addiction:



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