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Hotline Roundup: Your Questions. Answered.    

Hotline Roundup: Your Questions. Answered.

We created The Local Optimist Hotline as a way to get to know you and hear about the issues you’re experiencing in real time and to provide real answers from a real person. While the Hotline is a great way to connect one-on-one, many of the topics, concerns, and advice that are shared there are also helpful to others. This Roundup is a place to share some of what we’ve heard and learned on the Hotline so that more people can benefit from seeing how others are responding to similar challenges.

In each column, Meadow, our Mental Health Lead, will address questions she’s received from multiple individuals texts, not one particular person, to help highlight the common threads running through many of our mental health issues. The language and names have all been changed to maintain the confidentiality of our users. 

If you have questions for the Hotline, make sure to send them to us here.

Art by FISK

I feel so lonely right now. Since I can’t see family or friends, I feel stuck and isolated. What should I do?

You are not alone. We’ve all experienced loneliness at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s fleeting and sometimes it lingers. For many of us right now as we live more isolated lives because of Covid, it’s the latter. 

The most important thing to remember with loneliness is that it’s a state of mind, not a state of being. You can be surrounded by a sea of people and feel lonely in the same way that you can be all by yourself and not. The good news is that since loneliness is a state of mind, it is temporary, just like all things that are made up of thoughts and emotions.

We also have the ability to proactively change how we perceive those thoughts and emotions. This is all about reframing. For example, if you live by yourself and are feeling lonely right now, try reframing this time as an opportunity to really get to know yourself. Meditating, journaling, reading, and cooking are all great activities that can help you be more mindful and get in touch with your inner self.

Lately I’ve been feeling really down and disconnected. I don’t have any motivation. Is now the right time to start therapy?

One of the most effective tools to address mental health is therapy. Unfortunately, misconceptions about who “should” go to therapy fly around the internet and social media and can lodge themselves in our subconscious. This can make it hard to know when therapy is right.

The bottom line is there is no problem that is “too small” for therapy. Therapy is about creating the time and space to process whatever you’re going through. That could be about specific issues related to a breakup, grief, or family struggles. Or it could be tied to broader topics around setting boundaries or finding your path in life. If the challenge you are facing takes up so much energy that it is negatively disrupting your daily life, or if you’re just the kind of person that needs to talk things out, then speaking with a mental health professional can certainly help.

If you’re curious, test it out and see how you feel. If it doesn’t feel right for you right now, so be it. Just remember that you have to actively participate in the process in order to reap the benefits. 

I’m so stressed with online school and life circumstances right now. I feel burned out, but I still have so much to do. How can I stay motivated but not be so stressed all the time?

Most of us are experiencing new levels of stress at the moment, so it’s a great time for a refresher on stress management

For starters, keep in mind that not all stress is bad. Some stress helps motivate us to achieve our goals. The key is balancing the stress with coping and self care to avoid burnout. This, my friends, is outlined in a concept called the Stress Curve. Understanding the Stress Curve is helpful for maintaining an optimal level of stress.

Try to be mindful of the moments when stress arises and recognize the triggers that prompt that. When you do so, you can better deploy coping strategies that can help prevent the stress from becoming all-consuming.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.