I am tired of this pandemic, as I am sure we all are. The time of “normal life” before mask wearing, seems decades and lifetimes ago instead of something we have been dealing with for the last eleven months. This past year has been reported as the greatest mental health crisis on record. Thomas Paine was accurate in his statement, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” While this has been a time of great personal, mental, spiritual and emotional growth, it has also been fatiguing to both mind and body. 

The phrase self-care has been thrown around as if it were a vaccine of its own. It has been injected into our everyday lives without much explanation as to what self-care actually is. To me, self-care is any activity that cares for your mental stability, provides comfort, relief and brings peace, however long or short to your mind and mental state. I would like to differentiate that there is a tremendous difference between self-care and maintenance care. Maintenance care is getting your hair, nails, workout, pedicure etc. While some people classify working out as a form of self-care, for the purpose of this article, self-care is meant to be something that expands or contracts your mental space depending on the need at hand. 

I personally love to write. It is a form of therapy for me. Given the tremendous volume of changes that have happened in the last 30 days in my personal life, I have decided to sit down and write this article to help other women around the world cope with their experiences. To provide some context, one of my closest friends is moving across the world, my therapist left the practice, and my boyfriend is moving to another state. All of these changes were decided and announced between January 15th and January 29th. This did not leave me much time to process and deal with the torrent of emotions. To be clear, I am still processing. These are three major relationships that have been pivotal in my life, growth and have been a safe space for me over the years. With the loss of these three important people, how do I cope? What tools will I use to move beyond coping and surviving to maintaining my mental health and sustaining my continued personal growth?

1) The first tool I use is checking in with friends. I called my best friend today and she talked me out of my moment of panic. I appreciate her because she called me out on my residual old habits of protecting myself by pushing others away. This is not a great coping skill but it has served me over the years. When you really take this habit into perspective, has it really served me or harmed me? In order to become the person I desire, I must transform the habits I use to take actions in my life. New habits are uncomfortable but necessary. You cannot climb the mountain if you only make plans and never take the first step towards the peak. 

I also called my other friend and she gave me some deeply felt advice about when to reach out. She said, don’t wait to reach out until the light has gone out. Reach out when you feel the light dimming so that others can give you their light. This was so meaningful to me, because we are a generation of isolationists and this time of even greater isolation has further aggravated this mental health pandemic that has already been going on for years.  

  If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable calling, you can call the National Crisis Text Line. National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) Crisis Text Line, a text message therapy system with 24/7 crisis support (text “HOME” to 741741). 

2) The second tool I love to use is to find something to drive your creativity. My creative outlet is writing. This article for me is a form of therapy. Writing is what drives me, fuels me and provides me mental relief. It pulls all of my thoughts out of my head and onto paper to make room for more uplifting thoughts and feelings. I love love love to write. LOVE IT. My kids on the other hand, cope differently. My five year old son copes by painting or coloring. I go to the Dollar Tree by our house and buy him three to five cheap little wooden things or canvases to paint. He loves it. It gets all of his frustration out on canvas and when they are dry we hang them on the wall in his bedroom. It gives him a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for his own abilities as well. Your creativity is not meant to look the same as it does for others on Instagram or Pinterest. It is yours, and yours alone. Just think, what if Rihanna had said there were other makeup and clothing lines out there and never created Fenty?

3) The other thing I use to cope with pandemic fatigue is an app called I AM. You can download it from the Google Play or iTunes store.  The I AM app sends you notifications several times a day of positive affirmations. I have made it a habit that every time I receive a notification, I say it outload to reaffirm my positive beliefs in myself. Being a single mom in a time of national and global crisis where you feel like the last year has been a series of fires we are uncertain how to put out has been emotionally draining. The app helps because it covers a variety of areas in your life and mental space that you probably wouldn’t have considered on your own.

  Remember, great athletes don’t coach themselves and we should not expect to do the same for ourselves. In 2021, let’s normalize saying it’s ok not to be ok without justification for these feelings. Let’s also normalize saying to ourselves and others, I see you and I am holding space for you. 


Crisis Text Line