In the last month, we’ve all experienced a number of changes that bring about uncertainty in almost all aspects of our life. Not only are we concerned about our physical health, but also our mental and emotional health too. We see the word “COVID-19” plastered in grocery stores, all over social media, and even on our mobile banking apps. It can truly feel like you can’t escape it no matter what you do. Our mental health also affects our physical health, so it’s important to stay as grounded as we can. So here are 7 ways to stay mentally healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Acknowledge What You Can Control
Right now, you probably feel like almost everything is out of your control. And that’s true to some extent. But you have more control than you think so let’s start by focusing on what you CAN control. Here are some things you can control right now:
- How much news you read and watch
- The amount of time you spend on social media
- Where you direct your energy
- How you speak to and treat others
- The way you manage your own feelings
- How you choose to soothe yourself (AKA self-care)
- The decisions you make and,
- How you look after yourself
While you can’t control how other people act, how they feel, and other people’s decisions, you can control you.
#2 Connect With Your Loved Ones
The world is slowing down in a way that it’s never done before, which is allowing people time to connect with those they love. Even with everything going on, technology gives us the ability to stay connected. Try virtual communication tools like:
- Text messages
- Video chat
- Social media
Reaching out to others will not only help your loved ones, but it’ll also help you combat any loneliness you might feel.
#3 Feeling Pressured? Don’t!
A lot of posts are going around urging people to use this time “wisely,” but everyone’s perception of that is different. At this time, you should do what makes you feel safe and grounded. Don’t feel obligated to start a business, take an online class, or whatever else people are saying you “should” do. As long as you’re being responsible, do what’s best for you.
#4 Enjoy Nature But Skip The Crowds
It’s possible that your state has a stay-at-home order, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors. Studies have shown that going outside has the following benefits:
- Provides stress relief
- Improves your concentration
- Leads to sharper thinking
- Enhances creativity
- Decreases levels of anxiety and bad moods
- Boosts your immune system
So go outside, but keep your distance. Something as simple as taking a walk, riding your bike, or just sitting on your patio can do wonders.
#5 Meditation = Mindfulness
If you’ve ever thought about doing meditation, but never got the chance to, now is the time. Meditation can improve focus, lessen stress, and so much more. Research even points to it having a positive impact on weight loss, sleep, relationships, and pain.
Meditation helps us to become more mindful, which is important. With practice, you’ll learn how to focus on the present moment and calmly acknowledge whatever feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations you feel at the time. When you become more aware (AKA mindful), you learn how to control your experience. Mindfulness could help us greatly during the coronavirus pandemic.
#6 Be Grateful for the Little Things
Take a moment to appreciate the birds chirping and the leaves growing on trees. It’s these little things that we sometimes take for granted. While appreciating the small things won’t make COVID-19 go away, it will provide a valuable source of mental balance. Maybe create a gratitude journal or send one email of gratitude a day. The latter will make someone else’s day, which will, in turn, help you.
#7 Limit How Much News You Read
The world has changed a lot in the last decade, where the news is not just what you see on TV or read in a newspaper. It’s now in the palm of your hands due to social media platforms and email. As a result, it’s easy to run across news even when you’re not looking for it. One troubling headline can drastically change your entire mood, so you have to be a little more intentional about avoiding it.
We’re All In This Together
Times have certainly changed but you’re not in this alone. The entire world is impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. We hope our 7 suggestions will help you get through this very interesting time in history. Remember, poor mental health can negatively impact your physical health, especially your immune system. Stay healthy, stay safe, and know that we’re all in this together.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH