If there is one thing we are currently learning from this pandemic is the importance of mental health care. A boat load of mixed emotions, often negative, emerged during these time of uncertainty and new changes. There are feelings of anxiety, depression, boredom, anger and many more that are waging within us. We need to take better care of our mental health during these times.
Here are 12 Mental Health Care Tips for you and me:
1. Tell yourself that it is okay not to be okay
In situation of extreme stress such as this, it is okay to acknowledge the fact that we are not okay and it is okay not be okay. Denying the dilemma that we all are facing can only unhealthily suppress the bottled negative emotions we have inside, causing more problems. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, sleep in and take things slowly. Disregarding our negatives emotions will only promote toxic positivity which doesn’t help at all. Venting your emotions to some you trust or a mental health professional would really be beneficial too.
2. Enjoy healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing
Engage in healthy activities like reading, exercise, eating healthy foods, napping, praying and spending time with family can boost positive mental health during this time. Find a habit that you enjoy and use this time to allow yourself to immerse yourself in those activities.
3. Lessen expectations
Lessen expectations with self and family members at home. Though we are given an opportunity to stay often at home which allows us more time for ourselves, give yourself a break by not condemning yourself like if you miss a workout today. Same goes with your spouse, your kids and other family members at home. We are all coping these days. No need to berate your spouse if he forgot to take out the trash or she gets more impatient with the kids lately. Be more understanding if your kids are acting up more these days because being coop up inside the house can be too restricting for their hyperactive energies. Besides Shakespeare once said that, “Expectations is the root of all heartache.” So lessen your expectations to avoid or at least, lessen heartaches and mental anguish.
4. Practice compassion towards self and others
Like #3, practice more compassion towards yourself and other. Forgive yourself if you mess up and don’t burden yourself too much. Be kinder to everyone. What is happening around us is call to return to kindness. We all need learn to be kind to one another and also to ourselves. There is a study that random acts of kindness can boost happiness levels. Even with social distancing, we can still do random acts of kindness in our own way by reaching out digitally to those who may need cheering up, donating to those who are in need and providing services like free zoom talks or classes on our topic of expertise. I know of one marketing agency that provides free video styling for business owners that she knows are struggling because of this pandemic.
5. Be mindful with social media consumption
Being on social media these days or watching/reading the news can cause more anxiety. Hence, I lay off from most of my social media accounts lately. Another study suggested lessening of social media consumption can increase happiness as well. A tip, if you are still not willing to delete your social media, is to focus on facts than fear during social media consumption. We can turn our attention towards the positives we see in social media. There is a cool hashtag in Twitter that you can check out to be inspired called #covidkindness.
6. Do meditation
Another mental health care tip that would benefit you now and even post-covid 19 is meditation. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. There are several ways to meditate. One good one is the Loving Kindness Meditation. Think of a person that you love or care for a lot and repeat the mantra over and over , “May you be happy. May you be healthy“. You can also try other meditation apps like Calm, Headspace or Simple Habit. For me, I prefer to connect it with my faith and being a Catholic, I use the Catholic meditation app called Hallow.
7. Practice physical distance but do not be socially distant
Just because we are practicing physical distancing that doesn’t mean we become a recluse and avoid any contact to anyone outside our home at all cost. Connectedness towards other is even more essential these days. We need to reach out to our parents, siblings, our relatives and our close friends. Take time to check up on them. Create zoom parties. I even saw a farewell party done through zoom meeting for a colleague that will be transferring to another company. Everyone got dressed up, all have wine glasses to toast and a lovely meal in each homes. We all need that sense of togetherness despite not being physically together to hurdle this circumstance that we are all in right now. This is the best time to reconnect with long lost friends too.
8. Appreciate time affluence
One of the sad repercussion of this outbreak are the retrenchment, unemployment and business losses of companies. I knew of a few people that were laid off from work and some of my friends’ businesses closing. I encourage who experiencing these to do #1. Cry, get angry, vent out, lie down on the couch & binge watch on Netflix show. Do what you need to do to cope in this trying times. Learn to take advantage of the gift of time affluence. We are given more time for ourselves. This abundance of time will give us the time to hibernate, rest, experiment with new healthy activities we haven’t had the time to try out, realign to what we are passionate about, create strategic plans of what we want to do once we go back on our feet and live life slowly. Upside of time affluence is that it can sometimes provide with the clarity that you often couldn’t achieve in a fast paced life.
Jotting down your free flowing thoughts can be therapeutic. Many realisations can arise from this practice. Vent out all your anxieties, sadness, hopefulness and plans in a paper. It has reap many benefits to a lot of people.
10. Move your body
Find an exercise that you enjoy. You can even just a walk around the house or dancing silly to your favourite tune inside your house. Moving your body can result to release of endorphins which acts on the opiate receptors of our brains which can result to a happy mood.
11. Create consistent routine
If you are feeling uneasy and especially those suffering from anxiety, creating a consistent routine would help in this scenario. In spite of the uncertainty that is happening around the world, having a sense of control and consistency can provide a calming and reassuring effect. Design energising morning and relaxing evening rituals for yourself. This can be extra helpful for your kids too if you create a morning and evening rituals they will look forward to. Have a consistent waking and sleeping time and this will help regulate your sleep. There are a lot of people experiencing insomnia these days. That being said, it is best to practice good sleep hygiene by having a conducive room atmosphere for sleeping, no caffeine after 6 PM and no cellphone 2 hours before bedtime.
12. Practice gratitude
Lastly, writing down gratitude list daily can improve mental well-being and increase happiness. Shifting focus on the things that we are blessed to have can tweak our brains into a more positive mindset. We get to have feelings of appreciation and abundance once we see how much we have to still be thankful for.
Pro tip for frontliners:
Here are bonus tips for front liners like me. If overwhelmed and discouraged, try this out:
- Take a 1-minute break
- Then do 3 slow conscious breaths
- Also you can do reframing of your mind on what you are doing & what you are contributing to the community
I hope these tips can all help you as we cope this pandemic. Take care everyone!