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Take Note of the Small Stuff

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Specializes in Heart and Vacular Nursing. Has 18 years experience.

Has your mental health taken a beating by COVID?

This article is about how isolation has affected our mental health. It also include some interventions to help counter act the toll it has taken on us.

Take Note of the Small Stuff

“Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”. We have all probably heard this and would most likely agree. However, let's take a moment to look at this from a different perspective.

We have all been quarantined, separated and isolated from loved ones and friends for months and let's face it, our mental health has clearly been affected. We get up on the wrong side of the bed and everyone else pays the price. We take it out on the fast food worker because our order is slow or the greeter at the grocery store because they look at us wrong. According to an article in Frontiers in Psychology social isolation has been linked to anxiety and depression (Pietrabissa & Simpson, 2020). This should not be taken lightly; we need to take steps to help prevent the downward spiral of our emotional health. 

Time for a Challenge

Time to expand our outlook! Take that driver that is tailgating you, let’s be honest your first instinct is to get angry and say a few choice words. It is then we must take a deep breath and try for a minute to look from their perspective. Maybe they are having a bad day or maybe there is an emergency they are trying to get to. The reason I am suggesting this approach is more for your emotional health than for their benefit. If all we get out of that experience is anger, then we pay it forward to the next poor soul that steps into our path, and the trend continues. I have actually tried this myself and it did make a difference in my thought process. I let go of the anger that really only hurt me and pretty sure my blood pressure dropped about 20 points. It is a terribly heavy burden to carry that anger around all day. It takes energy to hang on to when we could use that energy somewhere else to make a positive impact. Now, do I do this every time I run into this situation? No! But I know when I do it changes me, little by little. 

Pre Op Testing

You know all the testing you have to do before a procedure such as labs, x-rays, and EKG’s. This information tells the physician whether it is safe for the patient to undergo the procedure, in this sense it prepares the physician to proceed or not. How can we prepare ourselves to endure those negative impacts we encounter throughout the day? 

Let's explore a few outlets to let go of the negative energy and bring in the positive. Downward dog, Warrior II, jumping grasshopper, yes you guessed it, yoga has been a long time activity known to reduce stress and help center your thoughts. According to a Mayo Clinic Article “Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020). Let’s not forget the great physical benefits as well! If this is a good fit for you then I would encourage you to consider this outlet. Another avenue for consideration is meditation. This can be done just by picking a quiet place in your home sitting for a few minutes in silence and clearing your mind. Some people play soft soothing music, while others play a mediation app that walks them through soothing relaxation techniques. WebMd has an article that states daily relaxation in the form of meditation helps reduce stress, enhance our mood and even lower our blood pressure (WebMd Staff, 2020). This is simple enough anyone can do it. It does not require any physical effort but does give physical benefits. My personal way of centering myself and seeking a positive outlook is through prayer and devotional reading. It helps me take the focus off of myself and gives me a sense of peace that I carry throughout my day. It gives you a sense that I am not carrying these burdens by myself. They say that people of faith are generally happier and less prone to depression (Vann, MPH, 2015). These are just three ways that we can prepare ourselves for the day's events and have a more positive impact on all around us, including ourselves.

Attitude of Gratitude

Now that we have adjusted our attitude, done the jumping grasshopper and taken time for prayer and devotion let's take actual note of the small stuff. What do I mean by that? Have you ever noticed the little things that people do for you? A few days ago I had decided to look for all the ways that people did something kind for me. I was driving to work when I passed a semi and when I was far enough ahead he flashed his lights to let me know it was OK to get back over. I got to work and a coworker held the door open for me. Multiple times throughout my workday coworkers offered to help me with my task. When I got home my husband had made a delicious dinner. My husband made me ad delicious. LOL These gestures make me feel good and I want to return the kindness. Always look for opportunities to fill your heart, open a door, pick something up that someone drops or write a note to a coworker and tell them how much you appreciate them. Take advantage of small chances to make someone's day a little brighter and perhaps let them know we are all not quite as isolated as we feel. 

The last several months have been a challenge, to say the least. Our mental health has taken a beating and it shows. Yoga, meditation and prayer can help center your soul relieve some of the stress. So cling to the small acts of kindness in your day, pay it forward, for this may help us learn a little more about ourselves and those around us. 

Bibliography

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, December 29). Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity. Healthy Lifestyle Stress Management. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-20044733

Pietrabissa, G., & Simpson, S. G. (2020, September 9). Psychological Consequences of Social Isolation During COVID-19 Outbreak. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02201/full

Vann, MPH, M. R. (2015, December 7). How Prayer Strengthens Your Emotional Health. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/power-of-prayer.aspx

WebMd Staff. (2020, July 28). Meditation, Stress, and Your Health. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/meditation-natural-remedy-for-insomnia#1

Take Note of the small stuff(1).pdf

My name is Wendy Barding and I am a nurse, writer, wife and mother. After working at the bedside for 17 years I decided I wanted to expand my career, but still use my experience and knowledge to educate others.

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3 Comment(s)

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

Thanks for this. I work with at risk/highh risk teens and we seen at least locally a huge increase in in-patient crises treament since the lock-downs started. we have also seen a big increase in child abuse and neglect reporting.  A a person who suffered from violent abuse from my mother I can't even begin to think what might have happened had I been stuck in the house with my abuser. No outlet through school, sports and other activities that kept me sane during that time of my life. 

This pandemic hasn't been too bad for me. I am an essential workers and have my pass to go out into the world to work, shop for groceries and get fast food wne it is warranted. It has however had a profound efect on peraons in my immediate family.

My husband who has VHF autism has always been one tpo perseravate on issues and when he is not working from home he is constantly monitoring the news r/t covid, vaccine availability etc... He literally wipes down the mail and is generally afraid to leave the house.

The one I really worry about is my own so, no 19 and the effect of social isolation he has been subjected to. He has always been a very level headed and gregarious and has recently been talking about how anxious he has been feeling. He is taking on-line classes at the local community college but he missess hanging out with friends. He has comlained lately  about feeling anxious and having poor sleep.

I stand by the idea that people are not meant to live in isolation. Not sure what the answers are accept getting as many people as possible vaccinated and getting back tp some semblance of normal.

Hppy

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

8 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

Thanks for this. I work with at risk/highh risk teens and we seen at least locally a huge increase in in-patient crises treament since the lock-downs started. we have also seen a big increase in child abuse and neglect reporting.  A a person who suffered from violent abuse from my mother I can't even begin to think what might have happened had I been stuck in the house with my abuser. No outlet through school, sports and other activities that kept me sane during that time of my life. 

This pandemic hasn't been too bad for me. I am an essential workers and have my pass to go out into the world to work, shop for groceries and get fast food wne it is warranted. It has however had a profound efect on peraons in my immediate family.

My husband who has VHF autism has always been one tpo perseravate on issues and when he is not working from home he is constantly monitoring the news r/t covid, vaccine availability etc... He literally wipes down the mail and is generally afraid to leave the house.

The one I really worry about is my own so, no 19 and the effect of social isolation he has been subjected to. He has always been a very level headed and gregarious and has recently been talking about how anxious he has been feeling. He is taking on-line classes at the local community college but he missess hanging out with friends. He has comlained lately  about feeling anxious and having poor sleep.

I stand by the idea that people are not meant to live in isolation. Not sure what the answers are accept getting as many people as possible vaccinated and getting back tp some semblance of normal.

Hppy

Your family is lucky to have you in your corner Hppy, as are your patients.

I think as a society we will face grave consequences from this pandemic. I think the social isolation is wreaking havoc on all of us in different ways. I don't know why, but I've incidentally become completely nocturnal since the pandemic started, even though I've done night shift for my entire career, now even on my days off I can't seem to be up during the day. Because of this, the world seems even more desolate to me. I'm just glad I'm not unemployed like so many others, and that I have a loving presence to come home to. 

We all need to be kinder to one another.

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

Funny, we joked with my because he has basically become a nocternal animal as well. Sleeping most of the day then getting up eating and doing chores and schoolwork. He missed getting his Driver's license due to closure of gov departments. So he sits at home with captain paranoia.

I'm working on getting him out more often.

Hppy