By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW
The St. Louis community, the country and the world are grieving -- aching for peace, justice, healing, humanity, acceptance, unity, compassion, integrity, security and more. The community unrest, violence and trauma of the past months have left their mark in many ways, both positive and negative, with outcomes yet unknown. We can all agree that change is in the air and regardless of your role or views, recent events have impacted the lives of all in this area and beyond. The tension has been woven throughout our work, our homes, our conversations, our thoughts.
Grief, sadness and anger are a natural response to crisis and loss and have been expressed in many ways, some healthy and some not. So, what are we to do now? How do you handle this ongoing stress? How do you process all that has happened and how it has impacted you personally? What are you doing to take good care of yourself?
Please take a moment to think about your overall well-being: your physical health, your mental health, your spiritual health. How are you really doing?
Are you eating a healthy variety of foods? Are you getting enough rest/as many hours of sleep as you need? Are you exercising regularly?
Do you have someone you trust to talk to (friends, family, mental health professional, spiritual leader)?
Do you have regular schedules and routines?
Are you able to enjoy yourself and have fun?
Take another moment to assess those answers and consider what is working for you and what is not. It can be discouraging to focus on the negatives of things we “shouldn’t do.”
So list the things you can add to your life for improvement such as getting extra rest, drinking more water, eating a healthy snack, calling a friend, volunteering.
Support is usually available right after a crisis or loss, but it is often not until weeks or months down the road that we realize we need it, and are then not sure where to turn. It is important to be aware of how you are doing and know when and whom to ask for help. Maybe help looks like company for the holidays or babysitting so a married couple can go on a date, or so a friend can go to that appointment or having the courage to simply share how you feel. Maybe health looks like a conversation with your medical doctor or finding a mental health professional.
Change starts with you. Your health and well-being start with you. As individuals, we need to start with ourselves and then work our way out to make the changes we wish to see in our lives, our community, and our world.
If you are not sure where to turn, or what to do next, BJC EAP is here for you and your family members, to listen, support, encourage and help. Find us on our website at www.bjceap.com or 314-729-4030 or 888-505-6444.