As we move past the six-month mark of the pandemic, it seems like the perfect time to take a step back and incorporate some self-care measures into our everyday routines.
Jessica Hutchison is a local therapist who lives in Barrington and practices out of her office in Hoffman Estates. She specializes in grief and loss and is co-founder of the blog, oursideofsuicide.com, which offers hope, comfort, and support for survivors of suicide loss. Hutchison says that the effects of the shut down and everything going on in the world right now are becoming more apparent every day.
“When it comes down to it, we are seeing the ripple effects of social isolation. Human beings are pack animals. We have always been stronger when connected to others. When you take individuals and isolate them from the rest of the world, you are going to see a substantial increase in anxiety and depression,” says Hutchison.
But, take heart. Hutchison is quick to say that there are definitely measures to take to help feel better, find balance, and be ready to face a new normal.
“We often forget how helpful movement can be. My daughter has become a Zoom expert because of distance learning. They have movement breaks, and to be honest, the whole world needs movement breaks! When you’re stuck in your own anxiety, it often feels like there is no way out. Go outside. Take a short walk, breathe fresh air and soak up the sun. It is amazing how something so small can eliminate anxiety.”
“Our nervous system is easily activated when we are anxious. When activated, our brain signals to our body that we are in danger. Insert the fight or flight response. This response is essential for survival, but highly problematic in day-to-day life. As someone who has worked hard to manage my own anxiety, I will admit that this pandemic knocked me off my feet. Committing to a daily meditation practice has been the number one activity that has helped me stay balanced.”
You Are What You Eat
“What you’re feeding your body is going to directly correlate with how you’re feeling. And a lot of that has to do with how much sugar you’re consuming. The more sugar you eat, the more anxiety you are going to have. It speeds everything up. It’s really looking at your physical health and your mental health as one and the same.”
You Are Also What You Drink
“Alcohol fuels anxiety. It messes with your blood sugar. You don’t sleep as well. You are going to wake up and be anxious. This is a cycle that I see many people getting stuck in. When we stop reaching for the bottle we become aware of how much we lean on alcohol to cope with stress. It becomes the hammer in our toolbox, and it shouldn’t be.”
Find Your People, Socially Distanced
“Interact with one another! You can grab a coffee and sit outside, especially right now. Sit outside before we can’t.” Hutchison stresses that this is fine to do, as long as you are doing it safely. “We all have different comfort levels, and that’s okay. But we have to engage socially … it’s central for our mental health.”
For more information, visit jlhutchison.com.