The year 2020 started like every other year; who could’ve known that the first half of the year will be spent battling a worldwide pandemic that will change almost everything? The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many things about how people live their lives. Its impact on people’s health is far beyond those caused by the disease itself.
The overwhelming fear of contracting the virus and the challenges of governments’ social isolation action to rein in the disease’s spread has created a lot of stress for the global population. Many people who already have a mental illness also had to deal with mounting financial pressures as they lost their source of livelihood. Others are struggling with several mental health-related disorders such as fear, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, stress, and depression due to the pandemic.
Since there’s currently no cure for the virus, many people are worried sick about what the future holds. If left unattended, these feelings of fear and anxiety could worsen a person’s mental health illness. This is why it’s important to learn strategies that can help you take care of your mental health illness in this period.
Tips For Taking Care Of Your Mental Health Illness During The Pandemic
Your mental health is an important aspect of your overall wellbeing. It has to do with how you think, feel, and react to stress during crises. It doesn’t matter the type of mental health illness you have. The anxiety and stress caused by this crisis can worsen your situation and jeopardize your overall wellbeing. However, you can take care of your mental health if you:
1. Know When To Get Help
People react to crises differently; some are more likely to react strongly to stress caused by a crisis than others. People who are more susceptible to anxiety include:
- People with previous health conditions
- People who have lost their jobs due to the crisis
- People who live alone or are socially isolated
- People with substance use disorders
People who fall under this category are more prone to stress-related anxiety and depression. They may begin to experience symptoms like withdrawal, sleep disorders, rapid breathing, feeling weak, and constantly thinking of death.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to get anxiety counseling from experts who will help you deal with stress on time. Don’t just assume that the stress will go away on its own because you’ll be putting your mental health at risk if you do.
2. Get Enough Rest
People who battle with stress and anxiety often find it hard to get enough rest because their mind is constantly busy worrying about one thing or another. To stay healthy, it’s important to try as much as possible to maintain a good sleeping habit.
Practice going to bed on time every day. If possible, try to get naps during the day. Set time aside to relax in a quiet environment whenever you feel stressed; this will help your mind relax and help you cope with stress better. Another way to relax your mind is by practicing deep meditation. You can do this for 30 minutes every morning before going out.
3. Train Your Mind To Focus On Positive Thoughts
With so many negative things happening around the world, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with negative thoughts. You’ll cause more damage to your mental health if you keep dwelling on negative thoughts. This is why you must make conscious efforts to see something positive in every situation, and train your mind to focus on positive thoughts always.
Learn to accept changes that are beyond your control and always find something to be thankful for. You can make a gratitude list and recite it to yourself when you wake up every morning and go to bed every night. This will cheer your mind up and help you have a more positive perspective of life.
4. Maintain A Routine
One of the reasons why so many people are experiencing deteriorating mental health in the COVID-19 period is because they feel out of control. Some people feel that the pandemic has altered their lives, and they’re no longer in charge.
Sticking to your regular routines will help you feel more in control and block out depressing thoughts from your mind. You can do this by making a daily to-do list and checking them off each night before you go to bed. This will give you a sense of accomplishment.
You should also keep engaging in activities that you enjoy, especially ones that you can practice at home or one that won’t go against the social distancing rule. For instance, you can still do your workout routine in front of your house if you can’t go to the gym. Just find alternative ways of getting things done.
5. Build Support By Connecting With Others
If you have to work from home or have to self-isolate, it may be extremely difficult to maintain your social relationships, which could have an underlying effect on your health. You may begin to feel alone, and soon depression may set in.
To avoid this, you should try to connect with people through virtual means. You can easily make phone calls, send emails, or use social media to keep in touch with friends and family members. You can talk to them about how you’re feeling and allow them to help you get the help you need.
6. Cultivate The Habit Of Eating Healthy Meals
Having a healthy eating habit is one of the ways to reduce your stress during this crisis. You have to be more deliberate about the kind of food you eat if you want to stay mentally healthy. You should avoid eating too much fatty food and reduce the amount of sodium you consume as too much salt in the body can negatively affect your health. As much as possible, avoid eating junk food and sugary foods.
Also, reduce your caffeine intake as it can increase stress and anxiety. On the other hand, adding more fiber to your diet will help you regulate your blood sugar levels. Vegetables and fresh fruits are good sources of fiber that you can easily add to your diet.
7. Take Care Of Others
You can relieve stress by taking care of your family and friends. When you help others cope with stress, you’ll also be able to handle your stress better. However, you shouldn’t neglect taking care of yourself. It’s important to strike a balance between the two.
You can help your loved ones feel less lonely by providing social support for them in this period of isolation. Let them know that you care about their mental wellbeing and that you’re willing to listen to them should they have any stress-related issues to share with you. Also, help them get counseling or therapy if you feel that their mental health condition is deteriorating.
8. Avoid Using Drugs And Alcohol As A Way Of Coping With Stress
When most people are faced with stressful situations, they tend to resort to taking alcohol and drugs to cope with stress. This action can do more harm than good to your health. It can reduce your ability to cope with the situation as excessive alcohol intake, and drugs make it more difficult to handle stress.
It can also increase anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. If you must take alcohol, do so in moderation, taking into account the negative effects it can have on your mental health.
9. Take A Break From The News
Avoiding the media is another way you can manage your mental health during this pandemic; this is because the amount of information on COVID 19 you get daily can be overwhelming. With so many new cases and deaths reported almost daily, you’ll only heighten your fear of the disease if you stay glued to your TV. Limit the amount of time you spend listening to or reading the news. You should also avoid false rumors being spread on social media.
You can keep up-to-date on the latest developments by getting news from reliable sources like WHO. If you listen to fewer stories about the virus and its devastating effects on people’s lives, you’ll cope better with the stress and decrease your level of anxiety.
10. Stay Busy
Another way of coping with stress is finding something to do that will distract you from the present situation. The saying that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop couldn’t be truer when dealing with stress and anxiety. If you stay idle all day because you can’t go out, you’ll have more time to dwell upon negative thoughts, and you’ll get more depressed or anxious.
Try to create distractions. It can be as simple as watching your favorite movie, cleaning your closets, reading a new book, learning a new language, or trying an exciting new project to work on while you stay indoors. If there’s anything new you’ve wanted to do for yourself but couldn’t make the time before, now is the time to do it.
The COVID 19 pandemic took the world by surprise, forcing many people to alter the way they live their lives. The changes in routines, lack of social contact, and increased stress and anxiety due to the pandemic can negatively impact a person’s mental health.
Managing your mental health is crucial to your overall wellbeing; this is why it’s important to learn how to take care of your mental health. The points listed above will help you manage your mental illness and stay mentally healthy throughout this period. Don’t forget to see your doctor immediately, if everything becomes too overwhelming.