Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During the Pandemic

The global spread of COVID-19 has changed the lives of many people. Although preventive measures like social distancing and lockdown restrictions are changing, many continue to worry and become fearful—thus, affecting their mental health. If you are feeling anxious or stressed because of the pandemic, you may want to look at some of these tips to take care of your mental health.

Follow a Daily Routine

Creating a structure can help give you a sense of control at a time full of uncertainty. Start with small changes and build upon them. It can be as simple as setting a time to get up in the morning or to sleep at night. You may also add other habits like cooking a healthy breakfast and preparing what you need for the day.

Also, remember to divide your day into small activities that will not just make you feel productive, but also give you enjoyment. If you have children, make sure to spend time with them. You can also pursue new hobbies like knitting or painting.

Keep Moving

Staying physically active can help improve your mood and alleviate stress. Even if it is as little as 15 minutes a day, exercising can help lower your body’s stress hormones and stimulate the production of endorphins—your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.

Some activities you may want to include are jogging, cycling, or yoga. If you are in quarantine and need to stay indoors, you can follow an online exercise class. Also, standing up and walking around in your home are effective in reducing sedentary time. You can stand up when taking breaks or walk around when taking calls.

Spend Time in Nature

Spending time in nature has a positive effect on your physical and mental health. Sunshine and fresh air can help in reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. After work, you can take a stroll in the local park. But if you can’t go out, you can go by your window in the early morning to get some sunlight and enjoy its benefits. 

Early morning sun exposure boosts the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical known to improve moods and keep you calm. During the winter months, you can add natural elements like plants and flowers to your home. These can help reduce stress and anxiety, improving your overall health and well-being.

Practice Mindfulness Exercises

Practicing simple mindfulness exercises can help maintain your mental health. Mindfulness allows you to be aware of what is happening in the present, instead of focusing on the past or future. It also encourages you to acknowledge your current thoughts and feelings, which is more beneficial long-term compared to dismissing them.  

Some examples of mindfulness practices are grounding and gratitude list exercises. To begin with the grounding exercise, you need to calm your breath and look around your surroundings. Find and name three things you can hear, two things you can see, and one thing you can feel. Focusing on your current state by observing your environment and recognizing what you are sensing can help you curb anxiety and stay calm.

On the other hand, the gratitude list is a great way to direct your thoughts on the good things happening in your life despite the challenging times. You can make this part of your daily routine in the morning after you wake up or at night before going to bed. To do this, simply write at least five things you are grateful for the day. Remember to be specific in your list. Instead of just writing how grateful you are for family, you can write, “I am grateful for the video call I had with my parents and brother today.” This practice can help uplift your mood and may make you feel happy.  

Limit Access on COVID-19 News

It’s good to stay informed of what’s happening around the world, but constantly checking the news about the devastating effects of the virus can make you feel stressed or anxious. Instead, set a healthy boundary on news updates by turning off push notifications from news apps, setting a specific time in the day when you will check the news, and finding factual information from trusted news agencies. Another healthy habit you can start is watching and discussing the news with other people. This way you can easily share your thoughts and worries. In addition, look for positive news and uplifting stories to boost your mood.

Responsibly Use Social Media

Social media platforms help keep you connected with family, friends, and loved ones. It allows you to talk and catch up with them wherever they may be in the world. However, social media usage may also increase anxiety and stress due to the constant flow of information—both factual and false ones. Thus, you need to be careful about your social media intake. You may want to turn off push notifications and unfollow accounts that may trigger negative emotions.

Have a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Since the pandemic started, many companies have allowed their employees to work from home. Although some enjoy the new work setup, others experience challenges such as longer work hours, isolation from colleagues, and technological issues. Together with issues the pandemic has caused like fear of getting infected and concerns on job security, these may be stressful and lead to poor mental health.

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To avoid this, set boundaries in your professional and personal life. It may be hard to do, especially if your living space has become your office. But you can correct this by setting fixed working hours and removing any work-related items at the end of the workday. You can also turn off any work-related notifications during breaks and after work. Doing so will not only help you manage stress but can also improve work productivity and prevent burnout.

Seek Professional Support

If you are having trouble coping with stress or you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may want to seek professional help immediately. Consulting your healthcare provider or local counselors can be good for your mental health, especially if you have other mental conditions like substance use disorder.

Social isolation, unemployment, and anxiety caused by the pandemic can also be addiction triggers if you are recovering from substance abuse. This may interrupt your progress and lead to picking up old, harmful habits. Even during the pandemic, treatment centers continue to operate following the precautions set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through video chats, counseling sessions, and conference calls, many rehab facilities help anyone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. In Florida, individuals who want to stay near the coast may contact a nearby Phoenix drug rehab center.

With the availability of the vaccine becoming more widespread, many are looking forward to resuming pre-pandemic activities and having a sense of normalcy. Until such time that the pandemic is fully behind us, the items listed above are just some suggestions on how you can maintain your mental health.

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