Who doesn’t need mental health tips to counter the devastating effects of Covid 19?
As we head into year two of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep your spirits up. There is light at the end of the tunnel but it still may be a while for many of us to resume our old lives.
According to a recent study by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 40% of Americans struggled with mental health or substance abuse during the early months of Covid 19. Let’s not even get into overdose and suicide. The rates have almost tripled from this time last year. Americans’ mental health has plummeted during the pandemic.
Turmoil in every area: political, economic, social, have left us exhausted and vulnerable. Many people are in despair over multiple issues like the loss of a loved one, illness in loved ones, social unrest, social inequality, loss of work, loss of financial stability, loss of community. The list goes on and on. So, what can we do? Here are six mental health tips that can ground you.
First: Identify your personal mental health challenges
All mental health tips should start with awareness. This is not the time to give yourself permission to look the other way. Get real clear on the issues around your mental health: How are you feeling? Do you feel like your feelings are out of control? What is stressing you out? Who is stressing you out? You can begin fixing things when you know what’s hurting you. Once you have an idea of whether you’re experiencing general malaise or something a bit more serious, you can make a plan about what to do. FYI, there are professionals who can counsel you on what to do no matter what ails you. Journaling your feelings helps with this tip
Second: Help someone in need
Mental health tips are all about easing your anxiety and distress. You can lower your mental health blood pressure and self doubt by helping someone else. Connecting with another person and ending your isolation are only two of the many benefits you get from helping. Helping takes the focus off of you. I have friends who have lost friends. You do, too, I’m sure. These friends who have lost someone need your support. Family members also need support. People new to recovery, especially, need your support right now. Look wider into the community and take note of all the ways people are helping each other. From answering phones, to being of service in recovery or at work, to checking in on people you know are lonely–find those ways to connect and help.
Third: practice positive psychology
One of my favorite books is the The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor. In the book, Anchor recommends seven daily principles for positive brain change. You see, being happy is a practice, just like Yoga or Buddhism. From practicing your strengths to finding things to look forward to, you can train your brain to focus on the positive not the negative. I’m not suggesting you can think serious depression away, but you can help your brain improve the way you think. Learning positive self talk and self think may be the most important thing you can do for your mental health.
Fourth mental health tip: take regular breaks from the news and social media
Sometimes there is so much upsetting news, it’s hard to cope. When you feel dread even before you turn on the TV or open social media, it’s time to protect your mental health stop looking! Turn to books, streaming services, or soothing activities and people. Don’t torment yourself with the misguided idea that you must be up-to-date on every story. What you must do, is care for your mind and feed it as much positive or nurturing material as you do negative.
Fifth: move your body for your mental health
It doesn’t matter if it’s just a walk around the block. It will help with your mental health. If you’re up for it, do yoga or online classes at home. We have a running coach who writes about starting an exercise program, if you want to check that out. If you’re not up for going outside, make sure you at least stretch. Take it from someone who has had spinal surgery, you don’t want your body too tight and out-of-shape. You won’t feel well and you’ll have pain in your body. Whether it’s head aches, neck aches, back aches, hip aches, or whatever, your body will let you know it’s unhappy so it give it the stretching and movement it needs.
Sixth mental health tip: Create a coping plan
Make a plan for when all else fails. When I am not feeling great there are two people I can call and go see almost immediately if they are available. Feeling alone is the worst. Pretend we’re back in kindergarten and you need a buddy for class trip. Who’s going to be your buddy so you don’t get lost? What can you do if no one is around? I often throw the dogs in the car and head to the water. Is there anywhere you can go that will make you feel good? Find things to watch, read, and listen to so there’s always something to help you cope through a bad or bored moment.