21 May Why Worry When You Can …?
Matthew 6:34 tells us not to worry about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In the midst of a pandemic that has shut down much of life as we knew it, it is easy to see the trouble. But not worrying is harder than ever before.
So how do we maintain mental health when we have experienced such a sudden change in lifestyle, and the future seems so uncertain? A friend of Lighthouse, Simon Azavedo, MSW, LCSW, CCBT, DAPA and LLC, shared these helpful ideas (and we added a few, too). A big thank you to Simon, who operates a psychotherapeutic, educational and consultation service with offices in Bergen County.
1. Eat right. Take vitamins as needed (but check with your physician). There is a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and depression. Take vitamin D3 rather than D2 or D. It metabolizes better in the liver. What raises vitamin D level? Sunlight . . . difficult to get when we are indoors so much! When the sun is out go for a walk or a jog. When the sun is bright, sit in front of the window. Foods that raise vitamin D: salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese, mushrooms, egg yolks, cod liver oil. Some medications can deplete vitamin D, B vitamins, and Iron. Internet search your ‘medication name and vitamin depletion.” Also, get your Omega-3s in salmon, white tuna, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, avocado, mackerel, herring, and anchovies. Internet search ‘omega 3s and depression’: various information there shows that omega-3s may also improve the response to some antidepressants. Internet search ‘folate and depression’: various information there shows that folate may improve an individual’s response to some antidepressants (leafy greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, beans, legumes.)
2. Exercise. Walk – alone or with your family. Do a walk/jog. Do some stretching, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, knee bends. Lift weights. Use resistance bands. Use laundry detergent and other common containers, if you don’t have weights!
3. Limit news. Watch briefly in the morning and in the evening, but not before bedtime. Buffer children from watching TV shows that report “death rates” or “fatalities.” This can create a sense of insecurity and fear. Normalize your life during these abnormal times. Read the emotional climate in your house or any environment that you are in. Make it more positive (fun, safe). Look for ways to relieve tension or brighten someone’s day. Now is the time to read to or connect with your kids or grandchildren – even if it is online. For good news, go to https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ — they have little blue tabs, where there will be different subjects, including one for “Kids.”
4. Limit electronics at least 2 hours before bedtime to reduce the blue light and the brightness of the light. Limit caffeine (which can include soda!); it lasts 4-6 hours in your system.
5. Do not catastrophize a situation if it is not the case. Don’t think in terms of worst-case scenario (irrational), but be rational. Control what you can and recognize what you cannot. Also realize the loss of control in a certain area may only be temporary.
6. Breathe, when high anxiety strikes. This helps various areas of the brain like the amygdala to calm down. You can also practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), yoga poses, or visualizing peaceful places. Write down Scripture verses on index cards to memorize or meditate on.
7. Pray. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
8. Connect with someone for encouragement or to encourage that person.