In my previous post, I discussed how to manage internal psychological distress. Now I want to talk about how to manage external distress. I'm noticing in my practice that boundary setting is more important than ever during the pandemic to have good mental health.
Workplace Boundaries: Most people that are fortunate enough to be able to work from home may have the ability to work more hours than ever before. If you have young children or are trying to help your kids through virtual school, the opposite may be true and you may not be able to get as much work done as you typically would in the office. Set expectations with your employer. Commit to what you're being paid to continue to do and do the best that you can under these circumstances. If you do have extra time on your hands, don't work more than what you're getting paid to do or more than what you would do if you were working in the office. It is important for your mental health to take breaks from your screens and have a life outside of work. If any one part of your life is getting all of your attention, you're likely neglecting other important parts of your life.
Relationship Boundaries: You may or may not be spending more time than ever in the presence of the people you live with. It's 100% okay to respectfully request some alone time! Also, if there is someone who is very distressed emotionally and/or constantly talking about topics that stress you out, it's okay to say something like, "I wish I could be the person to help you, but I'm not sure I can. Let me help you find help.," or "I really want to hear what you have to say, but I get easily stressed out hearing about stuff like this these days. I'm sorry. But, I'd love to catch up and talk about other things!"
Boundaries With Yourself: As discussed in a previous post, excessive news media or social media exposure during these times can be detrimental to our physical and mental health well-being. Set boundaries with yourself on how much exposure you have to the news. On social media, unfollow accounts that post content that is anxiety-inducing or stressful.
Are you noticing any other areas of extremes happening in your life? Set boundaries with yourself in those parts of your life and find a middle ground. All-or-nothing types of behaviors tend not to bode well for our mental health. Keeping trying to find the middle ground to keep your balance through these tumultuous times.