Tips for Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19: Advice for MetroWest Residents
If someone had asked you at the start of 2020 how you thought your year would go, this is probably not what you had in mind. This March, the US experienced the outbreak of the coronavirus, often referred to as COVID-19. This is a pandemic that is currently affecting the whole world.
There are going to be lots of people worried about their job and financial responsibilities, as well as their loved ones during this time. In particular, if you have an underlying health condition, you will be worried about your own safety during COVID-19. Your life has dramatically changed, with self-isolation and working from home becoming the new norm.
If you already struggle with your mental health, COVID-19 may be making things all that much more difficult. One of the reasons for heightened stress and anxiety is that we do not know how long social distancing and isolation will last. This uncertainty can contribute to a downward spiral.
But, the good news is that there are things you can do now to help with your mental health. Start today and feel the benefits tomorrow.
1. Focus on What You Can Do
It is common to worry about situations that you cannot change. This is often a source of stress, and it is not productive. We, unfortunately, cannot control all aspects of the virus right now. There is limited information available. We have to weather the storm by working from home and managing our mental health. Focus on what you are able to change in the short term. For instance, wash your hands regularly, take health-boosting supplements and keep your house clean. These are simple things you can do to support your MetroWest community and contribute to COVID-19 prevention.
2. Enjoy Healthy and Well-Balanced Meals
When you are stuck inside all day and with little to do it can be easy to turn to junk food. Eating becomes a source of entertainment rather than need. However, binging will only make you feel better temporarily. You will have a sugar rush and a spike in energy levels then you will feel sluggish and down for the rest of the day. This is not going to help your mental health, particularly if you regularly deal with depression.
The best way you can stay healthy is to increase your consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as other nutrient-rich foods. You can still enjoy treats but make sure that you do not overindulge. Healthy foods can give you an energy boost and help you avoid the sugar crash that can heighten stress. Giving your body what it needs will make you feel good in the long run.
3. Limit Exposure to the Media
Right now, the media is dominated by COVID-19 stories and updates. In particular, there are a lot of scary and upsetting stories. Listening to them all the time can make you feel anxious and stressed, worrying about yourself or a loved one. You may find it beneficial to limit reading about the pandemic. Of course, we are not suggesting that you cut contact with the outside world altogether. But it can be counterproductive to constantly read COVID-19 coverage.
In addition, when you’re reading newspapers, watching the news or checking online sources, try to enjoy a balanced approach. For example, do not focus on all of the negativity. Try to read positive stories about the coronavirus too so that you can receive real information about the outbreak.
4. Get Enough Quality Sleep
A lot of people underestimate the power of getting a good night’s sleep. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the spread of the virus or worried you will catch it, go to bed early. You can refresh and wake up in the morning with a better perspective. Make sure that you do not stay up late watching television or playing games. Get at least eight hours of sleep at the right time. This can do wonders for your mental health.
5. Enjoy a Walk
At this time, it is essential that you avoid crowds for the safety of yourself and others. But this does not mean you cannot enjoy some time in nature. You can still exercise during the day. Go running or simply take a walk. Bask in the fresh air and nature around you for the benefit of your mental health. You can get your vitamin D when the sun is shining too. A simple 30-minute walk every day can boost your energy and get you out of the house for a positive boost.
6. Connect with Family and Friends
If you are isolating away from your family and friends, do not forget to reach out and stay connected. Not talking to anybody for days at a time can be very damaging for your mental health. Sometimes, you need the perspective of others to help with stress and anxiety during a difficult time. This is something your loved ones can provide you with because they care. They can offer you support and you can share how you are coping.
You do not have to wait until you are struggling mentally to contact your family and friends. Try to phone or video call your loved ones on a regular basis to catch up and be social. Laughing and taking your mind off what is going on can be all you need.
Do not be afraid to contact a psychiatrist at Novum Psychiatry. A professional can give you advice on how you can manage your thoughts during this difficult time.
7. Learn a New Skill or Hobby
You will have a lot more time on your hands right now. Why not put it to good use? Instead of focusing on negative thoughts or the anxiety you are experiencing, try to distract yourself from what is going on. For example, you can learn a new skill or hobby. Invest your time in something meaningful. Having something other than COVID-19 to concentrate on can help you feel productive. Feelings of accomplishment can affirm positive thoughts.