Mental Health Awareness Month: How to Maintain Good Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Hacker Noon

@kannyFrancesca M. Nichols

Best Tech Writer Award Winner

Stress, anxiety, and fear are normal responses to actual or perceived threats, especially when confronted with uncertain situations. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Other than the rational fear of contracting the coronavirus, numerous unexpected changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have seriously affected our movements and support systems. People encounter new realities, such as working from home and lacking physical contact with their friends and family. Financial challenges also abound as companies continue to look for ways to survive the harsh economic times.

Stress can cause feelings of sadness, anger, and worry. You may even experience changes in your appetite as well as difficulty in making routine decisions. Sleep problems have also become more frequent during the pandemic. People with underlying mental health issues also suffer significantly. Given these challenges, it is more important than ever to take care of our mental and physical health. This article outlines simple and effective measures on how you can take care of your mental health and why to seek online therapy. Learning to cope with stress and anxiety will make you and your loved ones more resilient.

 Recognize that Stress and Anxiety Are Normal

We are going through uncertain times, and there are likely to change with which we are uncomfortable. If having to work from home, stressful deadlines, and school closures make you feel anxious, you are not alone. Everyone has to adjust to these challenges. In any case, psychologists have realized that anxiety is a healthy and normal reaction, alerting us when faced with threats and helping us to take protective measures. In this case, anxiety is going to help you when it comes to making the required decisions. Although some level of stress and anxiety is average, you need to check your information sources and understand when to seek support. The ultimate tip for this mental health awareness month is to seek professional help if you need mental health support and you feel you have the symptoms of coronavirus.

Look for a Distraction

Boredom is a problem that many people are having to deal with owing to isolation. The pandemic has forced most people to live in isolation, and social interactions have been reduced to the bare minimum. The boredom is likely to last for months, and the news media’s negativity only makes things worse. How does one deal with boredom? Find a distraction. There are some things currently happening that you can do nothing about. Finding distractions can help you cope with some of the challenges and to keep yourself engaged. If you are a student, consider enrolling in online classes, working on your projects, or reading books. Movies and exercise are other valuable and healthy distractions.

 Eat Healthily

During the pandemic, what you eat is as essential for your mental health as it is for your physical well-being. Due to isolation, people have to live increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and issues like obesity and overweight are becoming commonplace. Checking your diet is an ideal way to remain healthy while still boosting your immune system. Other than helping with immune protection, healthy foods can also function as antidepressants. Remember, while anxiety and stress are likely to spike during the pandemic, a well-nourished body has more resources for handling stressors. Foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are ideal during these times. Avoid binge eating or over-relying on fast foods.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

Another helpful tip for optimal mental health during the pandemic is getting enough sleep. According to research, 90% of people who struggle with depression struggle with sleep problems. Sleep is crucial for your mental well-being, and fears about the coronavirus are likely to complicate things. Quality sleep allows our bodies to relax and rejuvenate and is a form of therapy. When you don’t sleep well, your ability to handle strong emotions will be compromised. Create a schedule where you try to go to bed around the same time. Most importantly, try to obtain at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

Focus on Physical Activity

Coronavirus has limited people’s mobility, and the associated restrictions mean that we now have to spend more time indoors than usual. Exercise can be a helpful way to reduce stress and fight anxiety. According to
research, regular exercise generates chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These are effective antidepressants and can help in fighting stress and anxiety. Your access to a gym may be limited during the pandemic, but you can still exercise. Simple measures like walking up and down the stairs or taking morning jogs can be enough. Start small and keep adjusting your exercise regimen.

Create and Follow a Schedule

Another critical health tip to follow during the pandemic is to have a structure. Evidence suggests that having a daily routine plays a crucial role in protecting your mental well-being. Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, creating and following a routine is now more critical than ever. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Plan your days ahead, allocating space for exercise and relaxing. Intentionally pursue activities that will improve your well-being and mood.

Reach Out and Maintain Social Contact

The pandemic has forced people to remain in their homes and limit physical interaction with others. The outcome of this isolation has tended to be increased loneliness that can have profound mental health implications. Although you may not visit those you care about as freely as before, you can remain in touch. Social media platforms allow people to communicate quickly and affordably. You can even make video calls or group chats. Make good use of technology to stay in touch with your family and loved ones. This way, you will feel connected with those you care about. Also, while it is good to create time for others, avoid the burnout that comes with overcommitting to others.

Prioritize Self-Care

Another tip on how to improve mental health during the pandemic is to keep yourself busy. You can learn a new skill during this time and work towards improving your overall abilities. This way, you will be able to improve your self-esteem and a sense of purpose. If you have always wanted to learn how to bake, this may be the time to get started. However, don’t be so caught up in trying to keep busy that you forget the significance of self-care. Take care of your hygiene, treat yourself, and create some time to have fun. Seek support if you are struggling with mental health issues.

Limit Your Use of Social Media

During the pandemic, fake news and worrying information are likely to be plenty. Now that you may be spending more time at home, you need to verify various platforms. While you need social media to remain connected with your loved ones, excessive exposure to negative news can harm your mental health. Avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety by limiting your use of social media and news platforms.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

Here, we have covered some valuable ways to improve mental health during the pandemic. If you have an underlying mental health condition worsened by the coronavirus, you may need to engage the professional therapy services of a licensed therapist. You should also seek professional assistance if the symptoms of stress or anxiety make it hard to perform daily functions. The good news is that you don’t need to visit a therapist’s office to get professional help. Teletherapy services like Calmerry offer affordable and convenient mental health services to people around the world. On such platforms, you can locate and engage a certified therapist. The most important thing is to be kinder to yourself during these challenging times.

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