When your mental health is suffering, you may feel like a live wire. Military families have an extra layer of stress, so if you are finding yourself in between appointments or waiting to get a therapist appointment, especially during a pandemic, here are some tips for tending to your mental health.
1: Channel The Emotions
Create a safety plan of things that help you feel better for you to reference when your mental health is waning. Whether a hot bath, meditation, a friend date, reading in the sunlight, or an online therapist appointment through a place such as BetterHelp, your list can help you figure out the next right thing when you are uncertain.
2: Move Your Body
As much as our thoughts feel real and tangible, our bodies often put us into flight, fight, or freeze mode, which only adds to the turmoil. Feeling safe can be curling up in soft blankets, or it can look like releasing energy through movement. Moving your body doesn’t have to look like an hour at the gym. It could be a walk around your block with the puppies, a little jog, or a dance party in your room. Even five minutes of movement can help your mood shift so you can better navigate the stress.
3: Do 1% of what’s needed next
Is the bedroom messy? Instead of cleaning the whole room, make your bed. Need to shower but don’t have the capacity? Baby wipes work in a pinch. Can you remove unnecessary things from your calendar? Are there any commitments you can decline or delegate? Focus on doing a little bit at a time.
4: HALT right there
Amid an anxious spiral, it can be hard to figure out what comes next, and HALT is an acronym used to determine what trigger is occurring:
H – Hungry: when was the last time you ate or drank? Is there a way to get the nutrition you need in a way that isn’t overwhelming?
A – Angry: Do you need to vent or let off steam by moving your body or screaming to loud music in your car on the highway? A journal or a trusted confidant can also help to get the anger off of your chest.
L – Lonely: Can you call a friend, meditate, cuddle with a puppy, or set up a time to connect with someone?
T – Tired: Do you need a nap or more sleep? Is there a way for you to find rest throughout your day through downtime or a cat nap?
5: Call all hands on deck
Sometimes the wait for professional care is untenable. If you need to talk to someone today, almost all mental health clinics on bases will take walk-ins of dependents or active duty, and a chaplain is often available for a confidential discussion. Call the 100% confidential Suicide Hotline if you cannot drive, regardless of whether you feel suicidal or need a listening ear to sort out your current situation. Telehealth and Military OneSource can also connect you to military mental health resources to get you the help you need because you deserve care, gentleness, and a mind you can live with.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical consultant. These are suggestions for coping tools. If you have an emergency, please call 911 or get to your nearest mental health clinic on base. Please consult your therapist for the best course of healing for you.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
To find a Therapist who works with TRICARE: www.PyschologyToday.com.