Three Tips to Strengthen your Mental Health During COVID-19
Unlike physical health, our mental health is often neglected because we tend to use publicly-accepted methods to help us avoid, numb or distract ourselves from being mentally hurt.
A few days ago, I got a call from one of my friends who’s currently living in the US. He cried over the phone and said he can’t take it anymore. He said he’s been staying at home since March due to the Covid-19 lockdown. He admitted that he has tried to escape from his stress by drinking, watching Netflix, playing his favorite online games, and scrolling endlessly on Instagram and Tiktok.
But he doesn’t feel better at all. He’s started finding difficulty in focusing due to consuming high volumes of alcohol. He’s lost interest in games and TV after spending hours watching and playing games. Now he feels jealous of others who show their “happy life” on social media. He isn’t sure if what he has is depression but is left feeling incompetent at his job and at home.
Have you felt similar to my friend?
Well, it’s normal to feel anxious when we’re dealing with the effects of this pandemic. But no matter where you are or what you’re going through, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Here are 3 essential tips to improve your mental health, especially while the second wave of the pandemic is happening in the world right now.
Tip #1: Self-care is the first priority
Practicing self-care isn’t selfish and should be your first priority. Even though there might be some change in the ways you take care of yourself due to social distancing guidelines, you still can try some self-care tips to get started.
Scheduling, scheduling, and scheduling
- You can’t sleep because of stress from work, depression from staying at home for a long time or pressure from raising your kids while working. Creating a sleeping schedule is an effective way to improve your mental health. For example, you can set a fixed bedtime (from 10 pm to 6 am), no TV watching or cell phone for an hour before bed, and cap off the night with your favorite herbal tea or a glass of warm milk (make sure you don’t drink too much).
- Exercising regularly (both physically and mentally) is a time-tested way to reduce the symptoms of depression and stress. Your favorite gym may be still closed, but the outdoors are not. Getting outside for a run or walk really gives your brain a good workout. Make sure you schedule 30-45 minutes of daily exercise. Physical exercise can help you improve your mood and a change of scenery might be exactly what you need after spending so much time in your home. If you’re more into meditation like yoga, go for it. It’ll help you calm down, improve your sleep and enhance productivity as well.
- You often think eating doesn’t need a schedule. Actually, you should have a clear time slot for your breakfast, lunch and dinner to ensure proper balanced nutrition throughout your day. Eating nutritious foods including proteins, good fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals is also crucial to feeling your best and maintaining good health. The food you put into your body can directly impact the development as well as the management of multiple mental disorders, such as depression. Plus, you should drink 8 glasses of water per day to keep you hydrated.
Know your limits
Nobody knows your limitations except yourself. Resist the temptation to keep working beyond your established work hours. If you feel tired cleaning your house, take some days off. Don’t push yourself so hard because you are not a robot, you are a human who needs proper rest to recharge yourself. You should also know, respect, and share your limits with those around you to avoid burnout.
For example, you have been working on fixing a leakage from your washing machine for days. You have been running into the same problems over and over while trying to both reprogram the machine and open some outer parts. Your frustration has got to a point that you can no longer focus on your task and your mood has become increasingly negative. You decide to step away from the project for a few hours. When you feel calmer, you give a call to a professional appliance repair company and the issues are quickly resolved.
Again, it’s important to have the self-awareness to know when enough is enough. Taking the time to stop and seek out assistance when you know you are past your limits may make the difference in whether a mental health problem occurs or not. You can only work at your full capacity when you’re healthy!
Some people are too easy on others and too hard on themselves. If you don’t love yourself first, you won’t have enough love to give to others.
When you achieve something, reward yourself with a gift ( i.e. your favorite bag Coach) or a road trip with your friend. It doesn’t matter what type of reward is, as long as you treat yourself well, everything else will fall into place, especially your mental health. You feel happier, more motivated, and more energized to achieve other goals.
Another way of treating yourself better is by hiring someone to clean your house if you feel sick of cleaning and organizing your home. While a professional house cleaning company is not a mental health service provider, they can help you remove the stress of maintaining your house clean while you can focus on working at home, taking care of your kids, and spending time with your friends.
Tip #2: Stay connected
Physically distancing ourselves can make us feel disconnected. To help maintain social connection:
- Support your family member or friend: If one of them needs to be isolated for safety reasons or gets sick and needs to be quarantined at home or in the hospital, make sure that you keep in touch with them virtually so they still feel supported and not alone. Giving them a call or sending a note to brighten their day is simple but it means a lot to them.
- Make connections: Social distancing doesn’t stop you from making connections with others. If you need to stay at home and distance yourself from others, find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or FaceTime or similar apps. If you’re working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they’re doing and share coping tips.
- Help others: Find purpose in helping people around you. If you know someone who can’t get out, especially those who are elderly, ask them if they need help in grocery shopping or a prescription picked up. But assure to follow CDC, WHO, and your government health safety guidelines on social distancing and group gatherings.
Tip #3: Look for appropriate treatment
If the two above tips are not as effective as you expected, it’s time to talk to a mental health expert.
Shyness, stigma or social distancing can be an excuse for you to avoid getting mental help and the current situation might increase your anxiety levels and reinforce your negative thoughts and subsequent low mood.
But you don’t want to wait until your mental health becomes worse either.
By partnering with a medical expert, you’ll be better able to find out what’s right for you and prevent mental health conditions like depression and anxiety from developing.
So do you find these tips helpful? If you want to share other tips, don’t hesitate to comment below. We’re here to protect not only our mental health but also our community.
Stay Safe and Take Care. We’re in this together!