Have you taken the temperature of your mental health? The recent increase in using thermometers to check for symptoms of COVID-19 got me thinking about the general imbalance of attention to our mind with respect to our overall well-being.
We may seek advice from a nutrition expert when we want to eat healthier, or look to exercise experts to find out better ways to move our bodies when we want to strengthen our muscles or increase flexibility. Also, we go to church services, read blogs from spiritual mentors or seek other types of spiritual counsel when it comes to improving our spiritual lives. If we freely tend to these aspects of our lives, then why do we hesitate to seek out a therapist for our mental health?
Our mental health is an equal component of our overall well-being. One could say it even has top priority since the phrase is, Mind-Body-Spirit. That said, our collective mental health is grieved right now.
As a society we are experiencing loss, great loss. Not only loss of life, which is devastating, but also loss of work, loss of schedule and routine, a loss of sensory inputs through our tactile awareness that bring about a loss of equilibrium, known as homeostasis. Homeostasis is our natural, physiological balance or rhythm.
You might not realize how important your sensory inputs are to the rhythm of your life. Consider the sound of the alarm at a certain time, how often you snooze, the smell of the morning coffee or tea, showering, different clothing for work, taste of food at certain hours from certain vendors, the clank of the keys, sounds of cars speeding by, sounds and smells of the city bus or train, keys in the door, the sensation of driving, holding the steering wheel and having traffic around you, the sound of work shoes on concrete sidewalks, and so much more. These sights, sounds, tastes, smells and the things we feel, all contribute to the sensory inputs of our regular routine.
Think of your personal homeostasis as a mobile. Each of those tactile elements are different….not everything is equal but it’s all in balance to make up our regular routine. Once one thing is knocked out of whack, everything else in the mobile moves and continues to seek balance, seeking it’s natural rhythm, homeostasis. That’s part of why we feel out of whack, maybe a little depressed.
So what do we do about it?
Move. Start by taking a look at what actually is still part of your normal routine. If you are not going back to work for a while, pay attention to which of the five senses needs to be activated. Maybe you need pretty flowers that smell good or specific foods that remind you of your previous routine. Or search out foods that are comforting to you. Find textures that appeal to you, be aware of the ones that are soothing, or satisfying for sound and feel. Go and do things that activate your senses.
We all have different circumstances and varying levels of resiliency. Take your mental health temperature, and if you recognize you need more help to return to homeostasis, it’s ok. We can help.
– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC
Image credit: Wooden Mobile “Expressions” by DJECO