“Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.” — Brian Tracy
My friend Alicia came over to my house last weekend. She needed a safe space to vent and share all her fears and anxieties caused by the current trends in the world.
You see, we come from a third world country that lacks proper access to vaccines. According to our Ministry of Health, only 1.9% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. With the new strain, community transmission is at an all-time high, and so we are under a complete lockdown for the next 2 months.
Stress is high. Mental health is in deterioration.
According to the World Health Organization, our general mental health and wellbeing have a lot to do with managing our level of stress. In particular, we tend to spend a lot of time and energy stressing over things that are outside our control. However, for better mental health, we need to manage that.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” — Glenn Close
If we have our health and the bills are paid, we are rich. We need to take a closer look at what we really need in order to survive and be content. Most of us probably need less than we think we do materially and more in the area of overall health and well-being.
We also need to become more aware of the media we consume. According to Rolf Dobelli, consistently watching negative news can be toxic to your mental health, wastes your time, and makes you more susceptible to poor mental health.
Researchers at Berkeley University conducted a study in which they concluded that some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioural and cognitive performance. However, too much stress can cause anxiety and poor mental health so it is important to be more self-aware and watch ourselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal on the state of mental health of people all across the world.
You’ve been limited in how you can celebrate birthdays, graduations, and weddings. You’ve seen loved ones hooked up to a ventilator fighting for their lives. You’ve got an entire hygienic routine every time you leave the house: Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, and repeat.
“Your fitness is 100% mental! Your body won’t go where your mind doesn’t push it!” — Anonymous
You don’t have to go to the gym to stay in shape.
There are actually plenty of exercises and routines that you can do from the comfort of your own living room. That includes exercises like push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, and even going for a nice jog around the block.
On top of building your endurance and strength, exercise can trigger the release of endorphins in your system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are known as the “feel-good” hormone and will naturally boost a low mood during such trying times.
“Don’t ignore the effort of a person who tries to keep in touch, it’s not all the time someone cares.” — Unknown
Not being able to meet with those you care about can be detrimental to your mental health. Prolonged loneliness and social isolation can increase your risk of certain mental health disorders, substance abuse issues, or even suicide.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that loneliness in older adults increases the risk of dementia and other serious health disorders.
The best way to avoid these consequences is by staying in touch with loved ones via daily or weekly phone calls, video calls, or text messages.
Stay in touch with your loved ones, and do not shut out those who love and care about you.
“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” — Walt Whitman
Most places still have limitations when it comes to where you can go, what you can do, and who you can see. Yet at this point in the pandemic, you realize that your mood declines and you feel fatigued the longer you stay put in the house.
In a study published in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vitamin D, which can be absorbed by the body from sunlight, is a great mood booster and actually is used to treat depression.
So, if you’re feeling down and lonely in the house, spend some time in the backyard or go for a walk at the park before your fellow citizens get there.
“I love therapy! There is nothing like talking to someone who has no emotional tie to your life.” — Eva Mendes
You can reach out to a therapist.
If you were already struggling with your mental health prior to the pandemic, there’s a good chance that your situation has actually worsened as the months continued.
Luckily, the forced closure of most mental health facilities doesn’t mean that you currently have no access to care.
Many counsellors, therapists, and psychiatrists have moved to telemedicine for the time being. Scheduling an appointment with a therapist via video call is a great way to process your emotions and learn how to cope.
I also like BetterHelp and their instant access to free professional mental health care.
‘No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a pet* makes you rich.’ — Louis Sabin
Most people would appreciate coming home from work every day to be greeted by a friendly dog or cat.
And when loneliness and sadness become excessive during quarantine, a pet may be exactly what you need to feel better.
Even better, you may be able to help empty out your local animal shelter.
The connection between pet ownership and mental health has been long studied. In fact, in a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, mental health improvements were seen in about 74% of pet owners.
If you are able to, get a pet.
During a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, it is important that you prioritize your mental health.
Not only will this make you feel less lonely and like you have a greater purpose, but it will also save you from a ton of emotional turmoil that you’ll have to sort through once COVID-19 is gone for good.
Your mental health is a priority. Your happiness is essential. Your self-care is a necessity.
Have you or anyone you know been struggling with your mental health since the pandemic started? Please share advice in the comments below on how you have been improving your mental health that others can adopt.