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    Take Care of Your Mental Health at Home

    Today's blog post is brought to us by our guest blogger, Kimberly VanBuren. Kimberly is a practicing marriage and family therapist that partners with SWBC Employee Benefits Consulting Group to bring their clients helpful and informative content surrounding mental health.

    Let’s talk about how we can maintain our mental wellness while spending more time at home. We all have daily responsibilities and when those tasks need to be accomplished under the same roof, it can be a challenge. Successfully managing the duties of home school, entertaining, feeding, and sanitizing while trying to work, requires more than just skill—it requires discipline.

    1. Plan

    Being able to identify what is essential and what can wait is extremely important when there is more to do than you realistically have time to do. Have a family meeting and create a schedule. Make sure all family members understand priorities. Not everything is going to happen, and that is okay.

    2. Acceptance

    The reality of our situation is difficult when it is not what we want. There are situations we cannot control, and this is one of them. I get it. It’s normal to feel disappointed when all plans had to be cancelled, but when you continue to focus on all of the negative, you can actually make things worse. Although this is not our ideal way to spend the beginning of spring, find the positive in any aspect that you can. Appreciate the time with family and/or pets, take a walk outside, and actually do things you always said you wanted to do but did not have time. Be present in your experience!

    3. Be mindful

    Mindfulness is a phrase that we have heard a lot lately, so what does it mean? Mindfulness means being fully present and focused on the experience you are having at this moment. Most anxiety comes from two things: thoughts of what has already happened or thinking about what is going to happen. Neither of these things are under our control. Staying present in this moment can alleviate some of the anxiety we feel. Take a moment to focus on your body. How does it feel? Can you wiggle your fingers?

    How about your toes? Look around you; what things do you see? Have you noticed that before? Take a deep breath inhaling through your nostrils (three seconds), hold your breath (two seconds), and a long exhale through your mouth (five seconds). Continue with those deep breaths while you focus on the things around you.

    4. Take breaks

    Being at home does not mean you must stay busy with no breaks. Giving yourself breaks throughout the day will help your brain relax and improve your ability to focus. Take a relaxing bath, make a healthy lunch/dinner, read a book, etc. If you do not know what relaxes you, this is a perfect opportunity to try something new.

    5. Be creative

    Creativity is not just for writers and artists. Creativity is about developing something of your own. Being at home presents a perfect opportunity for you to be the painter of your life. How are you going to make the best of this time? Focus on creating lasting memories with your family and/or your pets. Maybe even create a post-COVID-19 plan that will include activities and restaurants you’ve always wanted to try out.

    We’re in this together! Let’s do our part to remain calm and protect our health and the well-being of others.

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    Kimberly VanBuren, MA, LMFT, LPC

    Kimberly VanBuren is the owner of Balancing Act. She offers life management services in order to assist individuals with finding a healthy balance in their work and home life. Through speaking engagements, published articles, workshop and individual sessions Kimberly is dedicated to empowering individuals with the tools they need to take control of their lives. Because of her strong ties to the military population as well as first hand comprehension of the struggles faced by military members, she continues to work closely with local military installations providing adjunct mental health services to active duty military members and their dependents. Kimberly spent 8 years in the Air Force as a medical technician. It was there, talking to the patients who remained on the units for long periods of time, that her love for counseling began. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology while serving on active duty. she continued her education after the military and received her Master of Arts in Counseling with a special focus in Marriage and Family, and is currently completing her PhD in Organizational Psychology.

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