It is indeed no surprise that mental health concerns are at an all-time high right now as many struggles to cope with a sudden shift to what was once, not too long ago, a “normal” life. One day we were all living our Best Life, watching the Coronavirus rip through other parts of the world, and then, boom, we were apart of it. It created a new way of living, thinking, and appreciation for the little things we used to take for granted, like breathing fresh air! Most of us are grateful to be alive, but since Covid has ripped through the world, I think we all have a different kind of gratefulness for life.

As for myself and how I have been affected by the pandemic, it has been very stressful. I can even say I recently found myself going through what I thought was stress and was actually depression starting to set in. Once I realized I was feeling early signs of depression, I became proactive! I want to share with you what I did in hopes of helping someone who can relate.

It all started back in January of 2020 when we had become aware of Covid. I had made a conscious decision to put myself on lockdown for the entire year, and I had vowed, after spending the whole of 2019 traveling back and forth from Maryland to my Las Vegas apartment, that I would be doing absolutely nothing until Covid blew over and I felt safe. As a person who prefers to be alone and who actually enjoys their own company, I figured this would be an easy task for me. My biggest motivation for my voluntary decision to stay on lockdown until the beginning of the next year, which is now (Janurary 2021), was to give hospitals and frontline workers one less patient that they would have to worry about. I have so many clients in the health care field, and after hearing the horror stories that they were battling against the fight on Covid, I wanted to show my support by simply staying at home, the easy part.

As I stated earlier, staying home was the easy part because I am a homebody, so I figured this should be an easy transition. While I watched people via social media and other outlets travel and have gatherings, sometimes practicing social distancing and sometimes wearing masks and face coverings, I was completely ok living vicariously through them. As the months progressed, I began to feel anxious inside. I didn’t understand exactly what was going on because emotionally, I felt good and well-rested. Although I felt and always feel a certain level of pressure, I am conditioned to work through that. After all, stress, pressure, and anxiety come with the territory of leadership and head of household.

Moving forward, around October, I found myself not wanting to get dressed. Not wanting even to do my hair unless I was working. I began not even to do the little things that I could do, like go outside to take a walk and breath some fresh air. The signs were all there, but again, I didn’t feel sad or mad, so I figured I was all good and everything I was experiencing was absolutely normal! That could not have been further from the truth.

Soon after, I wanted to do nothing but sleep if I didn’t have to work. When I began to sleep ten hours a day and still wanted to do nothing but lounge around even after my ten-hour sleeping sessions, plus the anxiety that I had been feeling for months, and I had even begun not to want to eat. I had no appetite for any of my favorite foods. And I am a total foodie! I knew it was time to do something. And something indeed is what I did.

My normal routine before Covid was regular visits to the gym and weekly visits to my favorite mall. I used to enjoy walking around the mall, having a bite to eat, and maybe drop into the casino if I was feeling lucky. These were the little things that I took for granted that I did not realize contributed to a quality of life I had become accustomed to living and doing. My frequent travels to fight nights in Vegas and New York City were now a thing of the past. When feeling overwhelmed, I would do a two-day check-in at my favorite hotel to relax. All these things were no longer part of my life. Of course, I should have been affected, just like everyone else! And the fact that I had put on a whopping twenty pounds did not help one bit (I am now back to my pre-Covid weight).

The first step was to recognize what I was feeling. For me, excessive sleeping was a true telltale sign that something was not right. So I started doing what I could do that has always brought me comfort in stressful times. I used to listen to my motivational or spiritual speaking every morning while I prepare for the gym. But I had gotten away from that because my gym routine had changed.

I once again started waking up on purpose with gratitude in my heart and my mind because to be a part of such a tragic time in all of our lives and still be here to tell the story is an honor and not something I take lightly. One of the first things I do once my feet hit the floor is grab my smartphone, go to YouTube and let my fingers scroll to find something to feed my soul. I make a point to do some form of exercise at least five to six days a week, even if it’s for twenty minutes. While this workout routine never gets easy, I must say I have never felt worse after doing it!

I read most mornings. I intentionally focus on self-help, self-improvement, and business growth and development because these are the things that inspire me to be better and, overall, feel good. Once routines are broken that we do, without even thinking about it, we don’t always realize how much it will be an impact on our lively hood. I had no idea that shutting myself down so abruptly and not making sure I maintained some source of what keeps me going would then trickle down to me shutting myself down within. That distance had even trickled down to my loved ones. I would make every excuse for why I couldn’t sit on the lawn with my loved ones and practice social distancing while enjoying a movie. Or attending to my boyfriend, who was also feeling rejected. Now, still, with the same stance that I am protecting myself at all cost, staying home and staying safe, I have gotten back to the core of what it’s all about. Balance.

Im taking more time to engage with my people via drive-byes, phone chats, and frequent texts to say hello. I’m going on occasional walks with my daughter and grandbaby even though I’m not too fond of winter weather. And most importantly, I’m feeding my spirit with the good stuff every day because I, like most, truly need it in times like this. One day, my daughter came to my house, like she was the mother, and insisted that I put my shoes on, grab my coat and take a walk! You would not believe how good that walk around the block was for me! I really needed that intervention. Do you need intervention or a friendly reminder that you must keep going despite it all? You must stay connected to your loved ones and, most importantly, connected to yourself!

Covid is not the end all be all, even though we are in a pandemic with no end in sight. And if you have found yourself feeling some way, I’m here to tell you it’s ok. It would be abnormal if you didn’t. Take this time to reflect on life pre-Covid, and if that was a feel-good time for you, start thinking about how you can recreate some of those moments. If you had become accustomed to working out or some physical activity, recreate it! You can work out anywhere, turn on some music, and have a private party if you choose. If your missing social activity, you can have a zoom happy hour! The possibilities are endless, let the inner child in you have permission to think outside the box (literally) and have a little creative fun. This is a time of crisis, but it is also a time to challenge ourselves to recreate our best lives according to the current circumstances.

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