Pandemic making mental healthcare more important during holidays

Pandemic making mental healthcare more important during holidays

The San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center is treating 35% more people now than it did last year.

SAN ANTONIO — It may be more challenging to feel thankful this Thanksgiving amid all that’s happened in 2020. The coronavirus is causing a lot of physical, emotional and mental trauma.

Dr. Martha Livingston is the CEO of the San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center. She said they’re serving 35% more people now than they were last year.

“We’re seeing a lot of domestic violence, people losing their jobs, dealing with grief,” Livingston said.

People have also come in for help with their anxiety and depression. Livingston said some have come to their counselors with the same question.

“They have COVID fatigue,” Livingston said. “And with the holidays coming, they’re asking ‘how can we be thankful during Thanksgiving when all this is going on?'”

Shifting your perspective won’t happen overnight, but Livingston said finishing the year strong starts with an attitude of gratitude.

“And really practicing that daily,” Livingston said. “Maybe having a journal where they write down the five things they’re grateful for that day.”

She said you can accompany that with positive self-talk. Remind yourself that tough times don’t last forever.

“Something like every day, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Livingston said. “Focus on the things that are going right.”

For a healthy mind, she said you need to focus on all aspects of your health. Livingston said you should exercise, get enough rest and eat foods that are good for you.

“Having sort of a checklist of some things,” Livingston said. “Some ‘how am I taking care of me?'”

You could also reach out to loved ones for support or consider giving your support to someone else.

“Even though we can’t connect physically sometimes, reach out to others virtually,” Livingston said. “Or help others. When we do for others and don’t focus on ourselves, we feel better.”

Next, pay attention to the little moments throughout your day that bring you joy, like that first sip of your morning coffee.

“Really appreciate the taste of the coffee and the smell,” Livingston said. “Engaging in what we call mindfulness. Be here now, focus on the little things in the moment.”

While it may take time to notice the effects of these practices, Livingston said each step brings you closer to the finish line to peace of mind.

“Some days are going to be better than others,” Livingston said. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint, right?”

Livingston when these day-to-day activities aren’t enough to make you feel better, you may want to consider reaching out to a professional for support. The San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center has more than 75 therapists that are available virtually and in-person. For more details about their services, click here.

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