Have you been feeling overwhelmed, bored, or stuck in a well of negativity? Don’t worry, you are not alone. The covid- 19 pandemic seems to be never-ending with lockdowns being imposed and lifted as often as tik-tok trends emerge. Apart from the lack of social interaction, the other struggles of the pandemic have led to a great deal of emotional stress for many. In this article, we will discuss 10 simple ways to take care of your mental health during these difficult times.
Do keep in mind that this article is for general information purposes only and is not intended nor implied to be a replacement for a consultation with your doctor/mental health professional, or a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
1. Create a separate space to unwind
Thanks to the current WFH (work- from home) culture, our homes have turned into our offices. The one place you could lay back, relax, and kick off the worries of work, may now be filled with worry. And when work gets stressful you may feel like there’s no place to escape all of this, and that you’re stuck. So find a space in your home where you can truly unwind and cut off from the worries of work. This space can be your bedroom, your balcony, or even a reading nook by the window. This is your escape, so add things that help you unwind. You can keep scented candles, fairy lights, comfy pillows, or anything that calms you. But remember, keep your work away from this little space.
2. Call, rather than text
With the increase in social distancing norms, you may be feeling disconnected from your loved ones. But thanks to technology the opportunities to stay in touch are endless. With a swipe of a button, you can instantly send a text, video, or even memes, to a friend living miles away. But do you sometimes still feel distant even after the texts? An interesting study conducted by the University of Texas in 2020, found that while most people opt to send texts, phone calls produce higher feelings of connectedness. Calling loved ones rather than texting them creates a stronger bond and makes us feel like they are present with us at that moment. So next time you want to talk to a friend, push aside the fear of awkward silences, and call them.
3. Learn something new
If you find yourself stuck in a monotonous routine, maybe it’s time to incorporate something new. Try learning a new skill or engaging in a new activity. An article by NHS, UK, mentions how engaging in something new keeps your mind focused, boosts your confidence, and gives you something to look forward to every day. And don’t worry, learning something new doesn’t mean it has to be academic and stressful, it should be fun! You can sign up for an online course, try out DIY projects, learn a new instrument, venture into cooking, or do anything else you haven’t set foot in before.
4. Plan online events
While you might miss interacting with your loved ones, we’re sure you miss the memories you made with them too. Be it drinks with friends, Friday night movies, or even a romantic date with your partner, covid found a way to end it all. However, thanks to the blessing that is technology you can continue to make these memories without being physically present. So, plan a brunch with your friends over zoom, watch movies together online, or even hold a game night!
5. Create a routine for the following day
One of the first things that came with the pandemic was an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty in everyone. There was a sudden lack of structure. You may feel like nothing is in your control, which leads to a great deal of emotional and physical stress. To help with this you can try to focus on the things you can control by creating a routine. Your routine should involve time for daily tasks, self-care, and leisure. While the tasks may change depending on the day, try to stick to a fixed time of waking up, eating meals, starting work, and going to sleep. In an article from Very Well Mind, Rachel Goldman (Ph.D.), states that having a routine is crucial because when people don’t have structure and have less to focus on, they will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety.
Physical exercise is an instant mood booster since it increases your endorphins, which are your body’s “feel-good” hormones. It also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases your energy levels. A quick walk outside every morning or a 15-minute home workout can improve both your mental and physical health.
7. Good sleep routine
You’ve probably heard this piece of advice countless times, but it’s mainly because it’s true. Sleep and mental health are closely connected. You may think that your body is working completely fine with just 5-6 hours of sleep. When in reality, it isn’t. A study by the University of Michigan’s health department highlights that lack of proper sleep or even disturbed sleep, can not only make you more irritable but also make it difficult for you to cope with minor stress. Hence, try getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, even if it means turning off your devices at 9 pm. Do you want to know more about how to fix your sleep schedule? Check out the following article https://psych2go.net/how-to-fix-your-sleep-schedule/
8. Being mindful of your social media usage
We know that even though social media is the new way of keeping in touch, it can sometimes be extremely overwhelming. Do you often find yourself feeling sad that you don’t look like those Instagram models, that your life isn’t like someone else’s, or even overwhelmed by disturbing news? Well, you’re not alone. Social media has often been a source of anxiety and depression for many. Keeping that in mind, it is important to be mindful of how we use it. You can do this by controlling what shows on your feed, or filtering accounts or content that make you feel overwhelmed. An article on WebMD highlights that an occasional digital detox can also be refreshing and will help you clear your mind. You can do this by reducing the number of hours you spend on your phone, or by cutting off completely once a week.
9. Practising Gratitude
During these stressful times, your mind is probably knee-deep in negativity, stuck in an endless loop of playing worst-case scenarios. One way of breaking that cycle is to practice gratitude. How? By simply recognising something positive in your day. It can be the perfect cup of coffee you had in the morning, the quick recovery you had from an injury, the person you met after ages, or even the deadline that got extended! Gratitude can be expressed through journaling, prayer, meditation, or even by thanking someone for something they did for you. Expressing gratitude calms those negative thoughts and brings about a feeling that things are going to be okay.
10. Ask for help
Often it may seem easier to keep your problems to yourself rather than expressing them to someone else. However, bottling up your emotions only increases the load. Talking to another person, be it a counsellor, friend, or mentor, can help you release the weight on your shoulders and realise that you are not alone. It will also give you a better understanding of your situation and find ways to navigate through it. If you find yourself hesitant to talk to a friend or relative, online counselling is a good option for you.
We hope these tips help you during these difficult times. Do you have any other tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.
* ScienceDaily. (2020, September 11). Phone calls create stronger bonds than text-based communications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200911141713.htm.
* NHS website. (2021, August 4). 5 steps to mental wellbeing. Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/
* Cherry, K. C. (2020). The Importance of Maintaining Structure and Routine During Stressful Times. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-keeping-a-routine-during-stressful-times-4802638
* Digital Detox: What to Know. (2021, May 12). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-digital-detox#2-5
* Fulton, B. (2020, October 27). The Benefits of Gratitude and How to Get Started. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-gratitude-practice#methods
* Fang, Y., Forger, D. B., Frank, E., Sen, S., & Goldstein, C. (2021). Day-to-day variability in sleep parameters and depression risk: a prospective cohort study of training physicians. Npj Digital Medicine, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-021-00400-z