After enduring nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic, many across the world may be reevaluating their approach to mental health. Self-isolation, worries about illness and even stress over job security have all played big roles in the lives of millions over the last few years.
For those hoping to turn 2022 into a decidedly more cheerful year, a few key changes to the daily routine could make a big difference. Given the seriousness of the past two years’ challenges, some may wish to seek professional help for their mental health issues.
“If you don’t have your mental health, you have nothing,” said Dr. Corey Gonzales, a clinical psychologist in Bakersfield. “Your mental and physical health are priorities. Because how you look at things matters. Happiness is not a destination. It’s how you travel in life. You can have the most beautiful things in front of you, be at the most beautiful places with the most beautiful people, but if you don’t see it that way, then you’re in trouble.”
Attitudes have changed about mental health. The stigma once associated with seeking help has begun to dissipate, especially among the younger generation. But it can still be difficult to know when, exactly, one should seek help for a potential mental health issue like depression or anxiety.
“If you see a change in your sleep patterns. If there’s a change in your relationships, your function, that you’re not as motivated or you’re avoiding things, or perhaps you find that you’re irritable, that you gain weight or lost weight. If you see changes in your functioning, those can be signs of a mental health problem,” Gonzales added. “If it goes on for more than a few weeks, that’s when you need to consider getting some help.”
Still, self-reflection can be hard, especially when one takes into account the fact that humans often have the annoying tendency to see the worst in themselves. When you do take stock of yourself, make sure to notice the good parts, too.
“We’re our own worst critic. When we really take a minute and listen to the way we think and the way we talk to ourselves, we often hold ourselves to a much higher standard and are much more critical of what we are doing than what we do when we are supporting our loved ones or our friends,” said Stacy Kuwahara, director of Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. “We need to focus on what we’re doing well. We need to focus on the present moment and not project stresses and anxieties into the future.”
For those who do decide to seek professional help, several options exist. Both Gonzales and Kuwahara recommended individuals contact their insurance providers. Primary care physicians can also offer referrals.
The BHRS crisis hotline is 800-991-5272.
The national suicide prevention hotline is 800-273-8255.
“Going into next year it’s really important to think about how we are growing and evolving within certain constraints of the world we are living in right now,” Kuwahara said. “A big part of that is, how do you take care of yourself? Because so much of the way that we have taken care of …….