With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out around the world, it seems like the end of this pandemic may be in sight.
But we are not out of the woods yet.
The last few months of extreme caution, vigilance and isolation have certainly taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. And not just us adults – our children too!
Even as we move ever closer to going back to normal, it’s important that we all continue to maintain our mental health as best we can.
Taking care of your mental health during a pandemic is not an all or nothing approach.
Even by following a few tips shared in this article, you can keep yourself healthy and develop the fortitude to see this pandemic through to its end.
Here are some ways you can maintain your mental health during a pandemic:
Take Care of Your Body
It’s amazing how closely linked the mind is to the body. So, when you take care of your body, you’re also helping to support your mind and mental health.
Taking care of your body doesn’t mean going on a strict diet and committing to a rigorous workout routine.
There are simple things you can do to promote your physical health as well as the health of your children:
Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that poor sleep can lead to an increase in the production of cortisol? This is a stress-response hormone that can lead to reduced energy levels, negative moods, high blood pressure and even weight gain.
To ensure you are getting enough sleep, go to bed at the same time every night and turn off all screens about an hour before you go to bed.
For adults, CBD oils may help to promote good sleep.
You don’t need a gym to get moving and improve your physical health! YouTube videos and exercise apps are a great way to get fit at home.
And don’t worry about jumping into a full-blown exercise regime. Even 10 minutes here and there throughout the day will help to improve your physical health.
Get the kiddos on board and have dance parties or walk outside and get some fresh air.
Reduce Stress Triggers
The best way to reduce stress is to avoid what you can altogether. There are going to be stressors you can’t eliminate from your life, so why not stay away from the ones you can?
Here are some ways to reduce stress triggers in your life:
Limit Your Media Exposure
Most of us are guilty of keeping our eyes and ears glued to the news, waiting for the latest tidbit of information.
However, constantly tuning into news about the pandemic can be detrimental to your mental health. It can also potentially expose you to untrue rumors and misreported facts.
If you want to stay in the know, check out reliable sources such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization).
For local updates, check out your province’s or state’s official website for current information.
Keep Yourself Busy
They say that idle hands are the devil’s playground. Well, an idle mind can quickly become a chaotic mess of negative thoughts.
While I’m not saying you should distract yourself from reality, you should definitely find activities that get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that can feed depression and anxiety.
Start indulging in a favorite hobby or pick up a new one. Start a project such as refinishing your kitchen table or cleaning out your closet.
Staying productive will not only steer you away from stress but also give you a sense of accomplishment.
Keep a Regular Routine
Although regular routines are crucial in a child’s growth and development, they are also useful in helping you maintain your mental health.
The predictability of a routine can make you feel more in control which, let’s face it, many people don’t feel during this pandemic.
Having a routine will also help your children as well by providing them the feeling of safety and comforting by knowing what to expect during the day.
I know when you’re a parent it can be hard to maintain a routine. Just try to focus on a regular wake-up time and bedtime as well as mealtimes.
Play, rest and housework can always fall somewhere in between.
Connect with Others
As a homebody and fairly introverted person, staying at home is not a huge disruption from my everyday life.
But I did like going to a place or two. 🙁
In all seriousness, just knowing that we can’t up and go visit relatives and friends is a struggle and one that can certainly have a negative effect on mental health.
Luckily, technology has given us a way to stay in touch with loved ones even if we can’t be in their physical company.
You can use your phone, text, email or video chat to make connections to friends and family. If you’re working from home, you can even touch base with co-workers.
The important thing to remember is that everyone is struggling with social isolation. It’s not up to your friends and family to “check-in” on you and support your mental health.
But by taking the initiative to connect with others, you are not only helping your mental health but supporting someone else’s.
Helping those around you and feeling socially connected actually has a positive effect on your brain, releasing what is known as the Happiness Trifecta – neurochemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) that boost mood and create positive feelings.
Get Help if You Need It
This is, for lack of a better word, a weird time and everyone is dealing with the stress of the pandemic.
So it’s normal to feel stressed out and worried during a crisis – but it’s important to recognize when you are beyond your ability to cope.
If you’re trying to maintain your mental health, but find yourself continually dealing with certain symptoms for several days in a row, it may be time to seek help.
These symptoms may include:
Feelings of helplessness/hopelessness
Difficulty completing routine chores
Help doesn’t always have to be in the form of a medical professional. You can reach out to a trusted and close friend to talk about your feelings.
Otherwise, never hesitate to contact your primary care provider to discuss your options when it comes to seeking help with your mental health.
Mental health professionals can give advice and guidance when it comes to your anxiety or depression – and most will now do so over the phone, via video or through online appointments.
We’re Almost There!
I know the past year has been a whirlwind of chaos, but it can only get better from here!
And so can your mental health – if you take the time and effort to support it. Just changing a couple of lifestyle habits can help you improve your mental strength and face this pandemic with courage!
How have you been maintaining your mental health throughout the pandemic? Share your tips in the comments!