In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic and other current events, health has become everyone’s top priority. Aside from the threats to your physical health, the “new normal” can also take its toll on your mental health.
Fear and anxiety can develop or worsen when worrying about avoiding infections when in public and ensuring that you and your loved ones are safe from the pandemic. Additionally, social distancing, the reduction of non-essential travel, and other public health and safety measures restrict social and public gatherings, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Until there is a cure for the virus, most, if not all, of these changes are here to stay. Taking care of your mental health properly is crucial for coping with these changes.
Why We Should Take Care of Our Mental Health
Like your physical health, taking care of your mental health is equally important. While each person may react to stress differently, here are some ways it can affect your life:
1. It can strain your personal relationships
In the current state of things, stress and worry can cause you to withdraw from your loved ones or act out in frustration, causing friction or misunderstandings between you and them. Lack of physical contact and face-to-face interactions can also be hard to navigate and lead you to spiral further into these symptoms.
2. It can get in the way of productivity
Poor mental health can interfere with your focus and concentration, making it harder to complete tasks or follow a schedule. Another symptom is a lack of energy, which contributes to trouble with motivating yourself. It can also heighten your feelings of frustration, stress, and anxiety when trying to keep up with your job or schoolwork.
3. It can weaken your physical fitness
There is a strong link between mental and physical health. With poor mental health, you may start to feel physical pains such as head and neck aches, muscle tension, and back pains. You may also experience insomnia, which can wear down your body’s resistance and resilience.
How to Boost Your Mental Well-being
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to help improve your mental health and better cope with the situation.
1. Maintain a healthy diet
Eating a well-balanced diet is recommended for its long-term effects on your body and mind. It ensures that you receive the right amount of nutrients to keep you at the peak of health. Conversely, a bad diet can leave you lethargic, moody, and fatigued.
Keeping your caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol consumption to a low or moderate level can also be good for you in the long run.
2. Stay active
Physical activity helps the brain release endorphins, which are powerful chemicals that boost your mood and give you additional energy. Experts recommend doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to reap the full benefits of physical activity.
While exercise can be intimidating to some, simple movements like stretches, walking around the house, or playing with a pet are enough to make an immediate change in your mood.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Lack of sleep can leave you tired and fatigued in the following morning, making it harder for you to keep your emotions in check and more susceptible to stress. Getting a full eight hours of sleep each night can help you avoid these effects.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, make sure to keep your room dark and cool to make it conducive for sleeping. Avoid caffeine intake in the afternoon, and stay away from screens at least an hour before bedtime. Caffeine may end up keeping you awake, and the blue light from screens can irritate your eyes, making it harder to fall asleep.
4. Reach out to loved ones
It can be tough to go through this crisis alone and away from your friends and loved ones who support you. Having someone to turn to when you need to vent or ask for advice can greatly improve your mental well-being.
While face-to-face meetings may be risky, websites and apps have made it easier to stay in touch with others despite these obstacles. Schedule regular video calls and online bonding sessions with your support group to combat loneliness and other negative feelings.
5. Schedule some “me”-time
While being productive is still a priority, it’s just as important to give some time for yourself to rest, recreate, and recharge. This is especially true if you are experiencing signs of fatigue or burnout, which can affect your productivity and overall output.
During your me-time, you can do whatever you want with no pressure. The goal is to rest your mind and indulge in activities that make you calm and happy.
6. Practice mindfulness
An important skill to develop is keeping your emotions in check. Mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and the like allow you to reduce your stress levels, better understand your feelings, and bring your mind and body back into a state of balance.
Learning these mindfulness methods gives you better flexibility to ensure that your emotional needs are met.
7. Pick up a hobby
Having a hobby in this current situation is an advantage—you have an enjoyable activity you can revisit to keep yourself occupied without adding to your stress. Some hobbies, like reading or solving puzzles can even provide ways to boost your brainpower and encourage critical thinking.
Instead of spending time scrolling mindlessly through social media, learn something new or try something you haven’t tried before.
8. Take a media break
Staying informed of the updates and developments on the virus and other current events is a vital part of life in the new normal. However, constantly checking them for information can become overwhelming and cause more negative emotions.
Make sure to control your exposure to this kind of media by setting aside time to stay offline and away from any device. It also helps to take your time when processing heavy pieces of news.
9. Reframe your perspective
It’s all too easy to fall into despair, especially with the fear and uncertainty around you. Reframing your perspective helps you see things in a different light and process your situation better.
Shift your focus on the things that are certain in your life—it can be anything from having three hot meals a day to your job, loved ones, and even pets. Appreciating even the little things you have can help you feel more positive as well.
A Healthy Mind for a Healthy Body
With the rapid amount of changes happening in the world, combined with the threat of the virus, more people are susceptible to stress and anxiety. These negative feelings can affect how you communicate with others, perform at work or school, and even manifest as physical ailments.
While the situation sadly won’t change anytime soon, finding ways to cope with what’s happening can give your mind the positive boost it needs. Simple lifestyle changes like a diet, more physical activity, and better sleep habits can go a long way in improving your overall health. Taking the time to clear your mind, rest, and recharge through mindfulness and leisure activities will also benefit you in the long run.