Open San Diego, Open Feelings

Tips and Resources to Support
Mental Well-being

Open schools, changing mask rules—it’s what we’ve all been waiting for, right? Change can be hard though, and many people feel like they were just getting comfortable with social distancing. Things are reopening, but many of us are out of practice. Small talk, office meetings, even seeing friends in person can all feel strange.

If you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, or is struggling with substance use as COVID-19 restrictions lift, keep scrolling for tips and resources to help cope.

 

It’s Okay to Not Feel Okay

Listening and supporting one another can be one of the most helpful things to do when we’re feeling emotional pain. You deserve to open up about your feelings. Call the Access & Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.

 

Kick Start a Healthy Routine

This past year may have felt like a blur, and changing schedules can be stressful. Creating daily structure can help ease stress and anxiety as things open up. Get started with some of these simple ideas:

Exercise can boost your mood. Starting, though, can be hard. Get motivated by adding in a fun destination, like walking to get your morning coffee.

Mindfulness can help. Try getting outside for some sunshine as a quick mood booster.

Nutritious foods can make a difference in mental wellbeing. Start by setting a small daily goal, like adding in 1–2 servings of fruits and veggies (fresh or frozen).

Sleep can help you feel better physically and mentally. Set a bedtime and stick to it if you have challenges falling asleep.

Try adding one new step to your routine each day and slowly build your schedule up.

Remember, caring for your mental health takes time, and we won’t pretend that good hydration alone will make everything feel better. The truth is that over time healthy habits will help you build a strong, stable foundation. 

Together Again

Spending time with family, seeing friends, going on dates… These are all important parts of caring for our mental health, but many people still feel “weird” or “off” going outside again.

It might not be realistic to expect things to feel the same after the past year and a half, so now is a chance to try something new. Here’s a list of activities you can do to shake things up.

Family Life After COVID-19

Many San Diegan families are feeling worried about being apart after this year and a half together—and that’s natural. As spouses return to work and kids head to school, it’s easy to feel isolated from your support system. Reach out for mental health support to help keep your family happy and mentally well. 

Teen Mental Health

While COVID-19 affects everyone, teens face many unique stressors right now.

  • Stress about returning to school due to social pressures or bullying
  • Lack of energy
  • Not interested in hobbies they used to like
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Anxiety around social situations
  • Obsessive or intrusive thoughts
  • Lack of LGBTQ+ acceptance at home or school
  • Difficult home life during this past year
  • Thoughts of suicide or feeling hopeless

No matter what you’re feeling, it’s important to remember you don’t need to struggle through it or try to bear it alone. Whether you’re unsure about friendships, worried about socializing, or feeling disconnected from your family, the sooner you listen to your feelings, the sooner you can work on feeling better.

A great place to start addressing challenges is by talking or even texting with your parents or a trusted adult. Adults often notice your emotions but don’t know when it’s the right time to bring things up. Talking, finding support, and even incorporating things like breathing activities into your day can all help lift a weight off your shoulders.

There are also several resources devoted to teens that can help you feel better and explore your mental health.

Hillcrest Youth Center North County LGBTQ+ Center Rady Children’s Hospital
1807 Robinson Ave, Suite 106 3220 Mission Ave #2 Gender Management Clinic
San Diego, CA 92103 Oceanside, CA 92058 858-576-1700 x223095
HYC@thecentersd.org 760-994-1690
619-692-2077 x122

San Diego LGBTQ+ Pride Transforming Families
619-297-7683 Monica Nunez-Cham
info@sdpride.org monica@transformingfamily.org

Hillcrest Youth Center
1807 Robinson Ave, Suite 106
San Diego, CA 92103
HYC@thecentersd.org
619-692-2077 x122

North County LGBTQ+ Center
3220 Mission Ave #2
Oceanside, CA 92058
760-994-1690

Rady Children’s Hospital
Gender Management Clinic
858-576-1700 x223095

San Diego LGBTQ+ Pride
619-297-7683
info@sdpride.org

Transforming Families
Monica Nunez-Cham
monica@transformingfamily.org

Older Adults Experiencing Increased Isolation

Older adults have been facing especially difficult challenges this past year. Increased risk of COVID-19 and social distancing have caused widespread feelings of isolation, and many are dealing with grief as close friends were lost to the virus. 46% of older adults report that the pandemic has affected their mental health, and 2 in 3 now have difficulty falling asleep.

Reach out to older adults who may feel alone and let them know that you’re here for them. Here are some tips on reaching out.

And if you’re an older adult experiencing these challenges, it’s okay to talk about it. Call the Access & Crisis Line today at (888) 724-7240. There are people here for you.

 

Substance Use Support

Mental health challenges can lead to increased substance use, especially during times of extreme stress. In fact, 40% of US adults reported struggling with mental health challenges or substance use during the pandemic. If you feel like you may be struggling too, you’re not alone.

Think about the reasons your substance use may have increased:

  • Overwhelmed or stressed out?
  • Feeling isolated?
  • Wanting time to pass quickly?
  • Social stressors?

If you are experiencing challenges with substance use, reach out for support. Help is available.

Dealing with Financial Stress

Many San Diegans are still suffering from job losses and cut hours, and the stress can easily affect your mental health. Luckily there are a number of support programs that might be able to lighten your burden while you get back on your feet. The resources below can help and support your mental well-being.

Health Care Workers and First Responders

The work has always been challenging, and working through the pandemic means many health care workers and first responders are feeling overwhelmed. Tensions, mental exhaustion, and anxiety, can all take a toll.

  • Over 50% of health care workers are experiencing compassion fatigue.
  • 3 out of 4 health care workers are experiencing emotional exhaustion.
  • First Responders are 5 times more likely to experience depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Health care workers have done amazing work this past year. Now, it’s time to take care of yourself, too. There are many resources dedicated to helping health care workers with their mental health, so please remember that you deserve to feel better, too.

There is confidential behavioral health support for First Responders: Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell’s First Responders Behavioral Health Program. The program provides a hotline and education on behavioral health and substance use disorders. Call 1-833-YU-FIRST or check out the site.

Adapting to College Life

As schools reopen for in-person sessions, there are still many questions left unanswered. New rules, difficulty focusing, finding new social circles, and feeling out of place are just a few of the challenges that returning students face.

Many students have reported that this past year has dramatically affected their mental health. If you’re feeling worried, depressed, or anxious about returning to school, know that you’re not alone.

Race, Ethnicity, and COVID-19’s Impact

The Latinx, Black, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in San Diego have all been disproportionately hit by COVID-19, leading to feelings of frustration and fear. Racial inequality has also become more visible over the past year.

Luckily there are mental health resources dedicated to serving and supporting the needs of all our communities.