Hi. How are you feeling? If you’re like many of us, you’re suffering from stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19. As a country – and as citizens of the world – we need to continue working to flatten the curve. But we also need to take care of our mental health. There are many ways that you can help yourself and your loved ones to feel more positive, whether in the current pandemic or when you’re coping with any stressful situation.
Staying at home and social distancing are important practices in the fight against the virus. However, you may feel lonely or isolated as a result. Maybe you feel overwhelmed or nervous or some combination of negative feelings. This is totally normal. Don’t try to suppress your feelings; instead, try writing them in a journal or talking to loved ones. You can even do something creative like painting a picture or writing a poem about your emotions.
According to Mind, the mental health charity, improving your diet can help you improve your mood, have more energy and think more clearly. If possible, try to consume a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals or bread, nuts and seeds, and oily fish. And don’t forget to drink lots of water!
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication. You may not be able to go to the gym or run around the savannah but there are many at-home workouts that you can do using just your body weight.
A good night’s rest helps your body to take care of itself and allows your brain time to process information. Try relaxing for thirty minutes before bedtime. Stay away from screens; instead engage in soothing activities like listening to music, meditation or mindful breathing.
Maybe you’re working or attending school from home for the first time in your life. If possible, try to designate a special workspace. And remember to take breaks to eat, stretch and walk around. Try to end your work or school day on time; maybe you can engage in a ‘cooldown’ activity to let your brain know that this part of your day is over.
Talking to people you love is good for you. When you can’t see friends and family in person, send messages, call and try video chats so that you can see their faces.
If you are feeling stressed, it can be easy to stop doing things you enjoyed. Try to continue hobbies that you can still do at home, like reading, cooking or doing puzzles. Host a games night on Zoom or Skype. You can even pick up a new hobby.
Read news from reliable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Ministry of Communications. These sources are unlikely to stir up distress and panic as unreliable publications might. You should also take breaks from the news and social media feeds as a constant stream of information can be overwhelming.
Share love with those around you. Caring for others can also give you a different perspective and help improve your own wellbeing. If you have children, there are lots of resources online to help you discuss COVID-19 with them in a calm, reassuring way.
If you find yourself struggling to cope, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. There are lists online of local mental health facilities that you can access. We all need help from time to time and you do not have to suffer alone.
Remember, this is a time to be kind to you. You don’t have to do everything on this list right away, but you can start taking some steps to manage your mental health.