May 19th, 2020

The Hardest Step to Take is the First One

Advice on how to stay mentally healthy during COVID-19 from Frontline Worker Officer Frank
Real Stories | Staying Connected
4 MIN READ
 

Being a New York City Police Officer is not an easy job on a normal day. Add in COVID-19, and officers are facing a new set of challenges. Nearly 20% of NYPD alone have fallen sick to COVID-19, and 41 members of the NYPD have passed away from the virus. While I have not contracted it myself, many of my direct co-workers did and the effects of reduced personnel were felt immediately. Right now, all first responders are working longer hours and more days than normal, and it is testing our resilience to stress.

Coronavirus and the strategies put into place to slow the spread has and will continue to cause chaos and negatively impact mental health. The most important thing we can do for ourselves during this time is take care of our minds and bodies. What we tell ourselves every day and the habits we build while in quarantine are critical. It’s important to be kind and have compassion for ourselves, but to also do our best to keep up with positive daily habits. Anxiety is real, and many who already struggle with their mental health are probably feeling it tenfold right now.
If you’re not sure how to spend this new-found time with yourself, consider learning something or trying something new that you didn't have the time to prioritize before. There are tons of free resources on Google, YouTube, IG and blogs to help get you started! I've spent my time researching about nutrition, workouts, and made some time to work on my mobility with yoga, which also helps to clear my mind. I've also been able to focus my time on putting out virtual content for the non-profit I founded.

 
“If you’re feeling anxious, pick up the phone and call someone you trust who makes you laugh or who can always brighten your day.”
 

The hardest step to take is the first one, but one becomes two and two becomes three. I've done that because it's what works for me right now, but I think an important message is that you’re not required to come out of this a master chef or business owner. If simply maintaining your regular day-to-day routine is what you need right now, do what’s best for yourself without feeling the pressures of social media to use this time doing all of the things. When we see so many people crafting, baking, and launching businesses during this time, it can be easy to feel like we're not doing enough. We are all guilty for getting stuck in the labyrinth (our heads) but remember there is always a way out and this will not last forever, nothing does. So to take care of your mind, body, and soul not only for yourself, but for your family too. 

If you’re feeling anxious, pick up the phone and call someone you trust who makes you laugh or who can always brighten your day. Whether I am feeling up or down, I check in with my friends to see how they are doing. I am grateful for my 8-months of sobriety from alcohol. Sobriety is the greatest blessing I have ever received, and while “in quarantine” though my usual support outlets are closed for business, I’ve kept close to my normal routine, with a few changes. I continue to help others reach their fitness goals, and I've moved my workouts outside. I also run a support meeting over Zoom for first responders every Sunday Night. Helping others helps me. Anyone who is interested please reach out on Instagram @Reps_For_Responders.

Let us not forget all those who are on the front lines. They are not at home with their families, participating in Zoom Happy Hours, or working from the comforts of their home. Thank you to all first responders.

If you or a loved one is in a physical, medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go directly to emergency services. To speak with someone immediately, contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), contact Lifeline Crisis Chat or contact National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on 800-950-6264 or Text NAMI to 741741.