The past 16 months have been tumultuous. During times of unease, change, and uncertainty, it’s essential to prioritize your mental health. AFSPA stands by the statement that mental wellness leads to better physical health. We’ve asked some staff members to share their personal experiences dealing with mental health struggles, and how they have been able to work on these challenges.
“Like many of us, I’m sure, COVID hit me pretty hard. For someone who likes to be out and about, with friends, and trying new experiences, the world shutting down did not help my mental wellness. As I felt my mental health declining, I reached out to my therapist for help. I realized that in this isolating time, talking to someone about my fear and anxiety was important to maintaining a positive headspace. My therapist and I worked together to figure out a new routine for me. Instead of going out with friends on the weekends, I started going on long bike rides and walks. Not only did spending time outdoors and exercising improve my mental wellness, it also improved my physical health.” – Hannah Wohlfahrt Jr. Communications Coordinator at AFSPA
“Early in 2020, I realized that I have to make some changes to my life to improve my mental wellness. I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone. Doom scrolling on the app was hurting my eyesight and negatively affecting my sleep and general state of mind. In those reclaimed hours, I sought out things that were of interest to me, such as new podcasts on movie trivia and history. More time rekindled my love of reading for pleasure. My best friend and I began trading suggestions and eventually hard copies of favorite mystery books that allowed us to stay centered. Having the human connection, even just over the phone, and discussing something other than the pandemic has been a great help to me.
Reading before bed instead of using my phone has led to better sleep and more energy. In the evenings, I often take my dog on a longer walk while listening to an audiobook or a Hollywood history podcast. Improved mental wellness and increased physical activity helped me lower my a1c and lose weight.” – Kyle Longton, AFSPA’s COO
“Mental wellness is so important to function properly in all the aspects of life. As many people, I have had moments where the pandemic hit hard creating a lot of anxiety that was affecting my personal relationships. I have used music and outdoor activities like roller skating and hikes as the perfect outlet to deal with my anxiety. Along with these, I decided to start therapy to understand more why I was feeling certain ways. It is important to use all the possible tools to find a good balance in your mental health because it has a big impact on physical health. Since I decided to take a next step on my mental health, I find myself more energetic and happy!” – Natalia A. Montoya, Compliance Coordinator at AFSPA
If you find yourself relating to AFSPA’s staff, or facing your own unique mental health challenges, AFSPA can help. Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) members have access to multiple different mental wellness programs. These programs are all designed to help you work through wellness related issues. For more information click here.