Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty

The following article is from our
Employee Assistance Program, FEI

Spring EAPost: Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty

Human beings like certainty.  We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us.  When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.  This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.

A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but can’t.  Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19, known as the “Coronavirus”.  We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress.  The uncertainty might also connect to our uncertainty about other aspects of our lives, or remind us of past times when we didn’t feel safe and the immediate future was uncertain.

In times like these, our mental health can suffer.  We don’t always know it’s happening.  You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad.  You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening.  For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.

It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events.  We can always choose our response.  If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:

  1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those.  Wash your hands.  Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you aren’t on?).
  2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.  It’s ok if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.
  3. Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk yesterday afternoon in my neighborhood with my daughter.  The sun was shining, we got our dose of vitamin D, and it felt good to both get some fresh air and quality time together.   Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
  4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment.  Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
  5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support.  You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

We are in this together, and help is always available.  If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention/2020

You can also contact FEI at 1-866-274-4723 or complete FEI’s contact form (https://fei.eapintake.com/).

Looking for calm? Try the virtual reality meditation app from StayWell

We all need a little calm in our lives. Especially with everything going on right now.

That’s why we’re pleased to offer you access to Provata VR, a FREE virtual reality meditation app.

‘WHAT’S A VIRTUAL REALITY MEDITATION APP?’
It’s a mobile application that guides you through short meditations. These include audio tracks and peaceful visuals.

‘WHY WOULD I WANT TO MEDITATE?’
Because meditation can help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve focus
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk for stroke and heart attack

And it’s really easy.

The guided meditations help you to slow down and be mindful about your thoughts and your body. You can start with a two-minute guided body scan, or you can choose longer meditations.

‘WHAT DOES A VIRTUAL MEDITATION LOOK LIKE?’
Get a preview by watching this video.

‘HOW DO I GET THE APP?’
You’ll need a new wellwisconsin.staywell.com account set up for 2020, so set one up if you haven’t already.

Then, follow these steps, using your smartphone or tablet:

  • Search for “Provata VR” in the App Store or on Google Play.
  • Download the app.
  • Create your account, using the same email address and password used for your Well Wisconsin account.

‘WHAT OTHER STRESS-RELIEF RESOURCES ARE THERE?’
Well Wisconsin has several tools and resources that can help with your emotional well-being.

The Resources section has e-learning modules such as:

  • Meditation & Relaxation
  • Depression
  • Stress Management

And since emotional well-being is so closely tied with physical, financial and social well-being, we’d encourage you to explore all the tools and resources available at wellwisconsin.staywell.com or on the My StayWell app.

JOIN US FOR A WELL WISCONSIN SELF-CARE BOOST
Well Wisconsin Self-Care BoostAs our stress levels rise during this uncertain time, we’ll talk about why meditation is important for reducing stress. Then we’ll walk you through a 20-minute guided meditation.

Click here or on the button below to get started and use the password 3H$$1#!2.

LISTEN HERE

How about a good laugh next week? We will be interviewing Charlie Berens from the Manitowoc Minute and watching some of his videos.

QUESTIONS? Contact the StayWell HelpLine at 800-821-6591 or wellwisconsin@staywell.com.

Can five minutes a day help? YES.
See whether you can dedicate five minutes every day this week to slow down or reset. You just may notice a big change.

Source: The StayWell Company, LLC

FITNESS-120 Faculty/Staff Fitness Challenge

 

Fitness-120
At-home fitness program for UWGB faculty/staff
April 6th through May 3rd

How it works:
Complete 120 minutes of physical activity a week for 4 weeks.
Submit weekly minutes online.
Receive a prize!

Types of physical activity:

Contact your co-workers and encourage them to complete this challenge too!  Please click here to sign up:  Registration

Live Fitness Classes

Alex Wandersee, UREC Fitness Coordinator, is offering live fitness classes!  Just follow UREC on Instagram or Facebook (information below) so you can check what day and time each class will be.  All classes will require no equipment, and a couple examples of classes are yoga and bodyweight strength.

  • Instagram: @urec_uwgb
  • Facebook: @URECuwgb

https://www.facebook.com/pg/URECuwgb/

https://www.instagram.com/urec_uwgb/

Quite a few people joined the live yoga class on Wednesday, and it worked really well!  The next class is Body Weight Strength today – Friday, March 27th at 2:00 pm.  Hope you can join!

Workout and Yoga Videos & Grocery List to Stock Your Kitchen

Alex Wandersee (UREC Fitness Coordinator) created some great online well-being resources available on the Wellness website > Online Well-Being Resources at https://www.uwgb.edu/wellness-committee/remote-wellness-resources/, including:

  • Leg, back and core workout video
  • Two 30 minute yoga class videos
  • Links to other workout videos
  • 30 day challenges – jumping jacks, squats and planks

Jolene Dorn (Chartwells Registered Dietitian and UWGB Associate Lecturer) and her team put together a helpful “How to stock your kitchen” grocery list, also on the Wellness webpage under Online Well-Being Resources.  It is basic staple items for your pantry, refrigerator and freezer that you should keep on hand when events like this hit, put together by Chefs and Registered Dietitians.

State Health Benefits and COVID-19

The following information is for individuals who participate in the State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program.

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is working with state health officials and health plans participating in the State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program to ensure you receive the care you and/or your covered dependents need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

ETF will provide updates on group health insurance benefits and coverage related to the COVID-19 outbreak as the situation continues to develop.

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions about your health benefits in relation to COVID-19.

Source: Department of Employee Trust Funds