The ongoing pandemic has spiked with more people struggling with isolation, loneliness and a sense of hopelessness, according to Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist Erin Wiley, MA, LPC, LPCC. She says self-care is even more important for both mental and physical health during the pandemic. “Self-care can help us remain emotionally stable and healthy during stressful times,” she believes.
Self-care is important for maintaining balanced mental health. “We are living through a time of collective trauma,” Erin explains. “People have lost loved ones, their way of life, their jobs, financial security, and school options for their children. Those are a lot of losses.”
Most of Erin’s therapy patients are busy just trying to manage the complexities of schooling for their children, family events, keeping their loved ones safe and healthy and adapting to new rules for living in a pandemic. “It seems most are not doing as well caring for themselves as they could. Many of us learn to care for others before ourselves and that isn’t healthy,” Erin says. “People think that drinking wine, taking a mental health day away from work, or enjoying chocolate and a tv show is self-care, but it’s much more.”
Erin says people tend to reach for food to calm down and feel better. Also, wine, tv series, social media, overworking, and online shopping are misperceived self-care habits. “In fact, these are all undisciplined ways to try and feel better that don’t lead to lasting to happiness,” Erin states. “To the contrary they often have negative ramifications over the long haul.”
Erin provides 5 Self-Care Tips to Begin Practicing Now for Increased Well-Being:
- Work to better understand and manage our emotions.
- Take care of our physical health (sleep, exercise, nutrition).
- Maintain and nurture relationships.
- Find ways to calm down that are enjoyable and healthy.
- Work on developing healthy daily habits that will keep us on track with regular self-care.
Learning to develop encouraging self-talk as opposed to shaming self-talk can make a big difference in creating and maintaining new healthy habits, Erin adds.
“Now more than ever we should be adopting and practicing sound mental health habits,” Erin recommends. “Being able to manage emotions at times of high stress is a great predictor of resiliency. In times of stress people tend to go into survival mode, and they struggle to maintain healthy habits.”
About Erin Wiley:
Erin Wiley, MA, LPC, LPCC, is a clinical psychotherapist and the Executive Director of The Willow Center, a counseling practice in Toledo, Ohio. She leads a team of 20 other therapists in their goal of meeting the counseling needs of the people and families of Northwest Ohio & Southeast Michigan, in addition to clients state-wide through telehealth. The clinical focus of her therapy work is marriage, family, parenting, and relationships. She has extensive training in marriage counseling from the Gottman Institute, located in Seattle, Washington. Her most recent area of research involves the study of the management and regulation of emotion as it pertains to mental health.