A Review on Mental Health Awareness

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, May 27, 2020
By Jenny Friedman, LCSW

Congratulations! You made it to the end of May, AKA Mental Health Awareness Month. By now I’m sure you’ve been inundated with plenty of words of wisdom around this, but as we head into June, I’d love to send you off with some additional thoughts to carry you over, especially given the continued strange times we are in.

First, why don’t we do a quick check-in? Here are some questions I’d like you to ponder since our “normal” changed a few months ago:

1. What do you miss?
2. What don’t you miss?
3. What will you miss?
4. What won’t you miss?

Self Love sign on window
Some answers from me, to help facilitate reflection and, perhaps, to make you feel less alone:

1. I miss: hugging those I am excited to see when I first greet them (keeping 6 feet distance is hard!).
2. I don’t miss: RUSHING.
3. I will miss: when time slowed down and I could appreciate it more; more time to cook, to relax, to read, to think, to watch the shows I was always too busy to watch. And more time for quality time with my partner and family.
4. I won’t miss: wearing masks; feeling worried every time I watch the news and see the increasing numbers…

I always enjoy opportunities to reflect, and I hope you do too. And feel free to do this exercise with your partner, kids, roommates; it could be fun and a nice way to vent and bond over what you may all be feeling.

So, aside from wanting to see how you’re all doing, another reason I started this post with a call to reflect is that, in essence, it RAISES our AWARENESS (ahem, Mental Health AWARENESS Month!).

Reflecting gives us an opportunity to pause and REALLY check-in with ourselves. Oftentimes we rush through life ignoring how we feel on the inside, without realizing that this may be negatively affecting our moods and behaviors. So, for example, we may be unintentionally rude to a friend, or irritable with a roommate or just more emotional than usual…but instead of being curious about these actions, we just carry on.

WHAT IF there was a reason WHY we were being rude, irritable, or emotional?

For me, personally, whenever I notice an unwanted feeling or behavior come up, I (try to) pause and really think about where these feelings may be coming from. I’m usually able to trace it back, and it’s extremely validating when I have an “Aha!” moment of finding the source. And if I can’t find the source? That’s OK. At least I am more aware and mindful of my moods and actions, and can, therefore, have better agency in managing them.

Using the “4 misses” prompt above as an example, perhaps this can help you better understand why you’re feeling the way you do in this time of Covid-19. Do you miss your friends? Do you miss something as simple as hugging your mom? Hey, if so, you might be feeling sad and lonely! Do you NOT miss work? Maybe, with the loosening of quarantine, you’re getting anxious about returning to work, and that’s making you more irritable than normal.

Pausing to think about these simple questions can not only help you better understand yourself, but it can also motivate you to make changes to alleviate those unwanted feelings, such as FaceTiming a friend or looking for new jobs that are more aligned with your interests.

I hope this exercise resonated in whatever way makes sense for you. And I hope that as we transition back to “our new normal,” that you’re able to find the space for further self-reflection and increased awareness.