Episode #255: The Importance of Mental Health
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You are listening to episode number 255 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about mental health and why it is so incredibly important to pay attention to. On to the episode.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Better Help. Y’all, I have been meeting weekly with a counselor, and let me tell you COVID-19 has literally rocked my world and everybody’s world who is around me, and I’m sure it has rocked your world in some aspect. It has taken our normal away. And now we are living this historical event, and we don’t really know what our new normal is going to actually look like. I know just yesterday, our governor of Texas has released the first kind of wave of how he plans on reopening Texas and but we’ve got this long road back to normal whether or not we’re actually going to get back to normal like we were prior to COVID-19. If that’s even attainable, I honestly don’t know. There’s so so many unknowns. But I do know right now in this moment that Texas is trying to reopen, but we’ve still got this long road ahead of us. And my mental capacity and mental health through all of this has really taken a hit. And that is why this episode is going to be all about mental health. But I do want to have this conversation with you, and I’m really grateful to Better Help for landing in my inbox at a very serendipitous time because I think it is important that our mental health is taken care of and we try our very hardest to take care of our mental health. So what is Better Help? And this is Better Help, spelled H-E-L-P. Better Help will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. So I was actually matched with a woman here in Texas. You can start communicating within 24 hours, and that was incredibly true in my instance. It’s not a crisis line. It’s not self-help. This is professional counseling done securely online. So between me and my counselor, we meet, right now we’re meeting once a week. We’re going to move to every other week, but right now, we’re meeting once a week, and it’s done through a video chat, but they also have the capacity of texting and messaging back and forth, and also phone calls as well. There’s a broad range of expertise within the better help counselor network that may not be locally available in many areas. But let me tell you this service is available for clients worldwide. You can log into your account anytime and send a message to your counselor. You’ll get timely and thoughtful responses. Plus, you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, so you won’t ever have to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room. As with traditional therapy, which I appreciate better help is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. So if you’re not feeling the vibe with your counselor, you can request another one. It’s more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and financial aid is available. Better Help wants you to start living a happier life today. So do I. This is unprecedented times, and I want you to reach out for help. There is no shame in reaching out for help. I have reached out for help. I cannot do this by myself, even with the support system I have in place. So I want you to visit trybetterhelp.com/bossgirl. That’s T-R-Y-B-E-T-T-E-R-H-E-L-P.com/bossgirl, and you’re going to receive 10% off your first month by test driving the service. And y’all it’s already made a big difference in my own world. So I’m going to encourage you to trybetterhelp.com/bossgirl for 10% off your first month.
And we’re going to dive right on into mental health because that’s what this is about. And it’s very important. I nearly had a breakdown recently, and I had a crappy day last week myself. And like my counselor, she was like, Well, what does that mean for you? What is a crappy day mean for you? And I am a hustler. I’m a go-go-goer; I very rarely sit down or sit still. I’m constantly working on something for my business or my businesses. I’ve also recently decided to launch a third sister brand to the Sugar Creek brand of things where I’m going to be selling vintage. And instead of just renting it, there’s so many times when I’m outsourcing and searching for pieces for the collection, and I’ll see something and be like, Oh, man, that’s really cool. I really love that thing, but it won’t rent. So now I’ll be able to say, Oh my gosh, that thing is really cool. I’m going to buy it because I know somebody will purchase it. So Sugar Creek Collective has launched, but I can’t do anything right now until I can go back out and start sourcing again. So I’m eager and awaiting that status.
And but yeah, last week, I had some rough days. And so my counselor was like, “Well, what does that mean?” And a rough day for me is where I physically don’t have any motivation to do anything other than sit on a couch and watch mindless TV. I don’t even have the most motivation to read, which is one of the things I do for my own self-care. And also, the other thing I do for my own self-care is to go out to an antique store or an antique mall, or a thrifting store or something to find things and to just get lost in whatever it is I’m searching for or from just mindlessly searching or mindlessly shopping and totally see that thing that I’m like, Oh my gosh, I have to have that thing. And to have that particular part of me completely closed off, completely shut down, as well as not being able to see my friends, to go get dinner or drinks. Like, to have those things completely ceased, completely shut down really just overwhelmed me last week, and I just had a day where I was blue, and there wasn’t anything that was going to make it better. There was not going to be anything that made it change. I just needed to sit in those moments and know that I was suffering, and I realized this is like first world problems and all of that. But you know, your mental health, it doesn’t matter where you are. Your mental health is incredibly important, and mine was suffering that day. And I just didn’t do anything. But I don’t allow myself to wallow. That’s what I call it, wallow, for very long. I eventually do find the motivation to do things to propel forward. But I needed to give myself that day, and so I was telling my counselor that, and I have to give myself grace.
We all have to give ourselves grace during these times. These are again, I keep saying this, but it’s unprecedented what we’re going through. What we’re experiencing, there has been nothing like it on this global scale. And we’re all going through it together in some form or capacity. And so, which is why it’s important for me to talk about mental health and taking care of yourself during these times and moving forward because again, we’re still in this unknown. We’re still in this, “What will be our new normal?” Will we constantly be having to wear a mask when we go out? Will restaurants get back to full capacity at some point in the future? What about movie theaters? What about, you know, other shopping excursions? What about, you know, conferences? And what about just going out and vacationing? Like what is all of that going to look like?
So I have found an article on Nature.com. This was written by clinical psychologist Desiree Dickerson. This article, I will link into the show notes, and again, there’s going to be a transcript of today’s show, so you’re welcome to read through the transcript, as well, instead of listening. I would love it if you’d listen, but the transcript will be available. So this is an article from nature.com, written by clinical psychologist Desiree Dickerson. It’s called seven tips to manage your mental health and well-being during COVID-19. Before I dive into the articles, so there’s seven tips are managing your expectations, proactively manage your stress threshold, know your red flags, routine is your friend, be compassionate with yourself and with others, maintain connections, and manage uncertainty by staying present.
So I found this statistic, and I heard it kind of through the grapevine, but I wanted to see if I could find a statistic myself, and I found one. So during March 2020, the Disaster Distress Helpline saw a 338% increase in call volume compared with February of 2020. Now, I would also imagine the suicide rate has gone up during this time, and if you’re needing help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255. Please give that a call. So during March 2020, the Disaster Distress Helpline saw people having conversations and expressing feelings of isolation and inter-personal concerns related to social distancing as well as financial concerns. They also saw an increase in frontline workers expressing their concerns and their feelings of isolation and all of that as well. It’s no surprise that our mental health is being challenged. And again, if you are having feelings of suicide, please reach out. 1-800-273-8255.
So diving into this Nature.com article and these seven tips to managing your mental health and well-being during COVID-19 and kind of beyond because I feel like we’re going to be working through this for quite some time. So clinical psychologist, Desiree Dickerson, she gives these seven tips.
Number one is managing your expectations, and this is what she has to say, “This is unlikely to be the writer’s retreat that you have long-dreamt of. The suggestion that periods of quarantine might bring unprecedented productivity implies we should raise the bar rather than lower it. But do not underestimate the cognitive and emotional load that this pandemic brings or the impact it will have on your productivity, at least in the short term. Difficulty concentrating, low motivation, and state of distraction are to be expected. Adaptation will take time. Go easy on yourself. As we settle into this new rhythm of remote work and isolation. We need to be realistic in the goals we set, both for ourselves and others in our charge.”
Tip number two: Proactively manage your stress threshold. This is what she says. “Try to lay a solid foundation for your mental health and well-being by prioritizing your sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. For example, avoid blue lights before bed and maintain a routine around your sleep and wake times. Eat well. Be conscious that you might be inclined to lean on alcohol or other indulgences to manage stress. This is understandable but potentially damaging in the long run. Exercise: it will lower your stress levels, help you to better regulate your emotions, and improve your sleep.”
Tip number three: Know your red flags. This is what she says, “One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts or physical sensations that tend to contribute to your cycle of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Our thoughts? Why can’t I concentrate? Feelings, frustration, worry, sadness, physical sensations, tension, upset stomach, jitters, and actions, such as compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics. Each feed into and amplify these negative emotional spirals. Addressing one aspect of this loop by, for example, actively reducing the physical symptoms.” I use box breathing. Breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, then repeat. “Can de-escalate the cycle and help you regain control.”
Tip number four: Routine is your friend. This is what she says, “It helps to manage anxiety and will help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your headspace. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related. That brings you joy. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.”
Tip number five: Be compassionate with yourself and with others. This is what she says, “There is much that we cannot control right now, but how we talk to ourselves during these challenging times can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress. Moments of feeling overwhelmed often come with big thoughts such as I cannot do this, or this is too hard. This pandemic will cause a lot of stress for many of us, and we cannot be our best selves all the time. But we can ask for help or reach out when help is asked of us.”
Tip number six: Maintain connections. “Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental, as well as our physical health, she writes. Many working groups have created virtual forums where you can contribute or just sit back and enjoy the chatter. Staff teams have instigated virtual coffee groups, online book clubs, and co-working spaces where you can work in the virtual presence of others. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone. Reach out to those who might be particularly isolated.”
And tip number seven: Manage uncertainty by staying in the present. She writes, “Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Mindfulness and meditation can be great tools. This will probably be a stressful time for all of us, and we’ll test the mental health policies and practices of many research institutes just as it is testing much else in the world. By embracing good mental health and well-being measures and by relying on others when necessary, we can protect ourselves and those around us.”
I’m going to encourage you to really pay attention to your mental health. Start a journal. Pick back up your journal. Do a gratitude list every day. Talk to your friends, whether it be on the phone or through video chat. Talk to your co-workers. Try to stay connected as best as you can. Figure out what your red flags are and what your triggers are. Implement ways of things that are going to provide you joy. Take clear breaks, so that you can mentally de-stress from whatever it is you might be working on. And reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help. I want to be very clear on that. I need help. We all need help of some kind, and it is not shameful to ask for help. To have somebody that you can talk to in professional capacity that is between you and that person, it’s private, where you can just unload the weight of the world off your shoulders and get help with processing those feelings and thoughts. To better equip yourself with coping mechanisms. Figuring out what tools and resources you need in order to keep your mental health at a much better state.
Again, I encourage you to trybetterhelp.com. That is the website. TryBetterHelp.com/bossgirl. Listeners of my show will receive 10% off their first month. And again, I want you to reach out for help if you need it. Even if you don’t think you need it, I’m going to ask you to reach out for help. We are in unprecedented times, and I want you to have the tools and resources that you need for yourself to keep moving forward.
Thank you again to Better Help for sponsoring today’s episode. And thank you for listening to today’s episode. It is truly an honor to be able to come on the microphone each and every week and have a conversation with you and for you to allow me to just be open about what my own struggles are, and what my own triumphs are, and the things that I’m testing out, and the things that I’m doing to move my businesses forward. And even having conversations of when I’m feeling stuck, and like right now, that is the active feeling that I have because of COVID-19 and the million unknowns that it presents, especially in the wedding industry. So thank you for listening. I will be back next week with another episode, and again, please, if you need help, reach out for it. TryBetterHealth.com/bossgirl. Until next week, I hope you do have a really great rest of your week.