Maybe you’re unsure of where your next paycheck is coming from. Perhaps you’re in an at-risk population and know that developing COVID-19 could prove to be fatal. Or there’s a possibility that you’re struggling mentally with the loneliness resulting from social isolation.
The most important thing you can do while living in an uncertain and risky world is to prioritize and care for your mental health. Let’s talk about 6 ways that you can do that.
1. Do things you enjoy
One of the best ways to keep your spirits up during a crisis is to do things that make you genuinely happy. That could mean binge-watching your favorite television sitcom, listening to your favorite songs, or even going for a leisurely drive along a scenic highway. Try to do something you love at least once a day. Then, experiment with new hobbies if you’re feeling adventurous!
2. Stay away from drugs and alcohol
You may feel bored, lonely, or stressed during the pandemic. That might make you want to turn to drugs and alcohol to either entertain yourself, relax, or escape the negative emotions that you’re feeling.
Using substances for any of these reasons and especially at times of great adversity and emotional and mental upset makes you more likely to develop an addiction or an unhealthy coping strategy. For the sake of your mental health, it’s best to entirely avoid drugs and alcohol at this time.
3. Focus on your physical health
There’s a direct link between your mental health and your physical health and one does not exist without the other. Therefore, it’s important that you prioritize a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and adequate sleep.
Each of these has the potential to improve your mood and reduce your current level of stress. Commit to a workout schedule (perhaps 5 days a week), eating a balanced diet (add as many colors as possible), and sleeping (try for 7-9 hours).
4. Find a way to cope
The best way to protect your mental health is by having a healthy coping mechanism to help you work through your emotions. Luckily, this is the perfect time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Be sure to experiment with healthy methods, such as meditation, reading, deep breathing, exercising, or expressing yourself via art. The perfect coping strategy will ease your mind and reduce your stress.
5. Stick to a routine
At first, having a ton of free time was relieving. But at a certain point, it’s likely that you lost your motivation and desire to stick to a schedule during your day-to-day life. Though a little freedom is great, it’s best for your mental health to stick to some sort of routine schedule and especially during these trying times. Be sure to take a shower and change your clothes each morning, eat around the same times each day, and create a work schedule that you can stick to. Consistency is key.
6. Stay in contact with loved ones
While you’re thankful to be physically healthy during this crisis, your social relationships have been negatively impacted. Not being able to spend time with your family and friends has led you to feel lonely and isolated.
To keep your relationships and improve your mental health, be sure to stay in contact with those most important to you. Schedule video calls with your best friends and don’t let the physical distance deter your relationships.
There’s a good chance that this pandemic will take a toll on your mental health in some way. But when your low mood or stress becomes debilitating, you might be better off making an appointment with a therapist or a counselor instead. Try the methods above first and give them time to work but know when it’s time to get professional help.