In the wake of the current pandemic, people around the world are following guidelines for social distancing and self-quarantine to mitigate the spread of disease. While these practices are imperative for public health, dramatic changes in routine and limited access to resources coupled with concern about the impact of the virus is contributing to stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness for many. Here are five important ways you can take care of your mental health in these unprecedented times.
Maintain physical activity and healthy eating.
In isolation, your usual outlet for physical activity might not be available and your food options might be limited. However, keep in mind that the benefits of any kind of exercise go a long way for your mental health, and nutritious foods can improve your mood and help you manage stress. If you prefer a structured workout, try a free online workout class. Doing yard work, taking a walk, and playing with kids or pets are other great ways to get your body moving.
Limit your consumption of media.
News coverage related to the pandemic is constant and ever-evolving, and it is certainly understandable to be concerned and important to stay informed. However, overconsumption of media can increase anxiety to the point where it no longer serves us. If you think overconsumption of the news may be impacting your mental health, try limiting your media intake by setting a daily or weekly time limit, or scheduling it for a specific time and avoiding it outside of that time window. Not only is this likely to reduce your stress and anxiety levels, it will also free up your time for more enjoyable activities like reading or engaging in your favorite hobbies. Also, keep in mind that while the news of the evolving pandemic is taking precedent on major media outlets, resources such as the Good News Network or Tank’s Good News have a mission to spread positive and uplifting news.
Stay connected with loved ones and your local community as much as possible.
Although we may not be able to see our friends and family in person right now, there are many platforms available for connecting virtually. Whether it is by phone, texting, social media or video chatting, connecting with loved ones is important for your mental health. Take comfort in knowing that those you love may be dealing with some of the same struggles you are, and by reaching out to them you could be helping them cope as well. A way to support your local community is by ordering takeout from your favorite restaurants or buying merchandise online from a local vendor.
Be mindful of your sleeping patterns.
With your regular schedule and routines interrupted, you may be noticing that your sleep patterns have been disrupted. Not only getting enough sleep every night but also going to bed and waking up at the same time consistently is important for maintaining physical and mental wellbeing. During this time, fear and anxiety may be making it more difficult for you to get restful sleep. Keep in mind these important “sleep hygiene” practices:
- Limit or restrict screen time in bed
- Reduce caffeine intake throughout the day, and do not drink caffeine in the afternoon
- Start doing something relaxing about an hour before you go to bed like taking a bath, reading, stretching, or meditating. Try using a free nighttime meditation app.
Discuss your concerns with a professional.
Luckily, as previously mentioned, the internet has proven to be an invaluable resource during this time. Many people who were already in therapy are continuing to video chat with their therapist online, and others still are utilizing the resource of online therapy for the first time to manage the stress of the pandemic. Additionally, online couples or family therapy may be an important resource for those struggling to adapt to the time at home with their families. GLPG offers hundreds of online therapists with a wide range of specializations to choose from, so it’s easy to find the right fit for you.