The covid-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for everyone. During the early days of the pandemic outbreak, so little was known about the virus.
There were social distancing measures enacted in most of the U.S. in March to curb the spread of the novel respiratory virus. That meant for some isolation, as well as economic uncertainty as businesses closed and workers, were laid off.
While we’re now several months out from those initial days of the pandemic, there’s still so much stress for many people.
Children haven’t been in skill, many people still worry about their health and the health of their loved ones, and the economy is still facing headwinds because of the effects of the pandemic and the shutdowns.
According to Darras Law, a disability law firm, some experts believe the mental health impact of covid-19 will have a ripple effect through society for years to come.
Now more than ever, you should focus on making your mental health a priority. It’s difficult when you’re faced with a barrage of negative news and ongoing uncertainty, but the following are important things to keep in mind during this time.
Cut Yourself Off from the News
We often think of people who are up-to-date on current events as being smart and analytical which is often true, but sometimes being too caught up on the news can do more harm than good.
In previous decades you would watch the evening news and that was about it, aside from occasionally reading a newspaper.
Now we are constantly connected to the news, as well as social media. We bring our smartphones everywhere and we see everything happening in the world, essentially in real-time.
That’s not inherently bad, but during stressful or challenging times, it can be damaging to your mental health.
If you want to stay informed without worsening your mental health, set aside a small period of time each day where you check the news but don’t go beyond that time.
It’s important to set boundaries with things that cause you stress or anxiety, and this isn’t just true during coronavirus.
Know Your Triggers
The news may or may not be a trigger for you, but regardless know your specific triggers and avoid them.
There may be thoughts, feelings, or even settings that will create feelings of distress and if you’re anxious, you may start to ruminate on these and get into a cycle of negative thinking.
Step away from your triggers, and if you feel yourself spiraling into a place of repetitive negative thinking, take deep breaths, do grounding exercises or meditate to get yourself back to the present.
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many of us may have let our physical health go to the backburner. We could have been worried more about balancing working from home and caring for our children, or perhaps we managed stress in unhealthy ways, such as by drinking or eating more than we would normally.
Maintaining your physical health is important for a number of reasons. First, your physical health is intrinsically linked to your mental health.
Beyond that, when you take control of your physical health, it can help you feel a greater sense of control over your life in general. That can be valuable at a time when so much of what’s happening around us may feel out of our control.
To take care of your physical health, ensure that you’re getting enough sleep and eating well.
Do regular physical activity to boost your mood, and limit caffeine, sugar, and processed foods.
The Mediterranean diet has shown positive results as far as helping people dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depression. This diet is rich in foods that have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. These foods include fruits and berries, as well as vegetables, nuts, and olive oil.
Keep yourself in check as far as your use of substances, limit your screen time, and try to find healthy ways to relax.
Stick to a Routine
When you feel that your mental health is becoming a problem for you, create a routine and work to stick to it. Routines are critical for mental health.
Your routine should include a consistent bedtime, consistency in when you have meals, and a consistent work or school schedule as well.
When you have a schedule, you then have predictability. Much like taking care of your physical health, that predictability can help you feel in control.
Find Ways to Maintain Social Support
A lot of things are opening up right now around the world, so you may have more opportunities for social support than you did a few weeks ago. Social support is an integral part of our mental health.
You need to have not only support but also just a connection with other people. If you aren’t yet comfortable in social situations, maybe you find an online group you can join or make time for regular Zoom calls with friends.
You can also see a therapist as a way to have a sense of support and to be able to talk about what you’re feeling and experiencing. Most therapists are making online appointments now.
Providing support to others can also be good for your mental health.
Finally, you have to be able to make a distinction between normal stress and anxiety and situations that might not be normal.
We’ve been in a period of crisis for months, and feeling anxious or stressed is normal to an extent.
However, if you are starting to feel helpless, hopeless, or you’re having symptoms such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating for more than a few days, you may need to consider speaking with a mental health care professional.
Above all else, no matter what, be kind to yourself and show yourself the same compassion you show others. It’s a difficult time and it’s okay to feel stressed and overwhelmed but do the best you can and be gentle on yourself in the process.