Mental Health is Essential: Self-Care Strategies and Activities to Overcome Pandemic Stress
April 29, 2021
Share this to:
Are you feeling restless recently? Do worries, doubts, and negative thoughts keep on pestering and overwhelming your inner peace? Above all, do you feel hopeless that there will be no end in this pandemic? You should know that what you are feeling is valid and you are not the only one who is experiencing such emotions, especially in these trying times. Subsequently, it cannot be denied that the global pandemic has put a toll not only on our economy and well-being, but also on our mental health
At some point, the heightened restrictions of the national government may leave us feel isolated particularly with the observance of social distancing and quarantine measures. This may mitigate the rapid spread of the virus; however, the thought of enduring the pandemic battle alone might be frightening. Likewise, we may perceive that life has been so unbearable knowing that it has been over a year since we last experienced the outside world without apprehension. Nevertheless, there are self-care strategies that you can use to revitalize your spirits while you are staying in your exclusive condominium unit. After all, you should prioritize your mental health in the same way as you do with your physical wellness.
Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Just as we care for our biological and physical necessities, you should also take in mind your emotional and psychological needs. The state of your mental health will significantly affect how you think, feel, and act. Consequently, it will impact the way you decide, overcome severe stress, or even foster harmonious relationships.
When stress has reached beyond the limits of your manageable threshold, you may begin to experience sudden burnout, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, this may affect the quality of your living, particularly when you do not address your mental health concern immediately.
Unlike with COVID-19, there is no known vaccine that can ease the environmental and internal pressure affecting your mental health. The Executive Administrator of Emory University School of Medicine and the Immediate Past President of American Public Health Association, Dr. Lisa Carlson, emphasized that mental health should always be part of public health dialogue. Hence, COVID-19 talk is also Mental Health talk as well as Public Health Emergency Talk is also Mental Health talk.
“Mental health is a human right, it’s time that mental health be made available for all. Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage and it is urgently required as the world grapples with the current health emergency. We need to make mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere.” – Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary of the Department of Health.
The Current Mental Health Pressures
In order to address any mental health predicament, one must be able to find the source first. It is through identifying the current mental health stressors.
Some of the current stressors include routine disruption, financial pressure, work and home balance, mandatory distancing, unemployment, health uncertainty, fake news, and travel limitation.
The Faces of Stress and Depression
On the other hand, these mental health stressors are evident in the eyes of those left vulnerable.
Imagine the health professionals who are enduring the fatigue and stress inside the hospitals that are near full capacity. Visualize how their movements are restricted with the hazmat suit that they are wearing for 12 hours or more. Above all, picture their worry of contracting the virus as a frontliner. What makes the situation even more difficult is that they are not able to see their families or loved ones to find respite from the daily grind.
How about those employees who were displaced or retrenched? Imagine the worry it gives them on how to survive the other day knowing that their source of income was put into a halt. What more to the underprivileged who cannot go outside to make a living; thus, leaving them to starve greatly.
There are also those mothers who suffer from being apart from their babies who have contracted the virus or vice versa.
On the other hand, there are also those loved ones who are experiencing a frustration ordeal towards their deceased relatives. It is because funerals for COVID patients are strictly prohibited while cremation for the affected deceased is mandated.
Apart from that, envisage how COVID-19 patients bear being alone in the hospital since visitors are not allowed.
Finally, the face of everyone of us who cannot even hug each other for comfort and affirmation.
Indeed, the pandemic has redefined how we should live our lives; hence, the birth of the new normal. In this regard, we need to start learning how to take care of ourselves. You should realize that self-care is not being selfish. When you are able to take care of yourself, you will be able to translate the care to those around you as well. Hence, you need to discover another rhythm in your life that will keep you going and thriving.
Self-Care Strategies and Activities to Boost your Mental Health this Pandemic
Thanks to technology, it somehow minimizes the distance between you and your loved ones. Being able to have someone to talk to will keep you sane during the crisis. Hence, social media and the other messaging platforms will be your regular companion. It may not totally replace the warmth of having physical touch; still, this is an immediate way to stay in touch with those who matter.
Create your New Normal Routine
The pandemic may have limited the usual social gatherings, yet it will not stop you from living and growing. For this reason, you need to create your new routine that prioritizes yourself. Why not start doing the things that you were not able to do before? For instance, you can start achieving that fitness goal that you are looking forward to having for a long time. You can also take advantage of the free webinars or workshops online to keep you busy and away from diving into overthinking or dwelling into negative thoughts.
When you are engrossed in a physical activity, it will significantly reduce your anxiety; consequently, improving your mood. Since it is also summer, have fun doing some indoor activities that will make your homestay fun.
News Detox/ Smart Screen Time Use
It is not wrong to be constantly updated about what’s happening around. However, too much exposure from COVID-19 news or any other negative news may leave you overwhelmed. Just like in taking a prescription drug/medicine, you should know when and how much should your intake news for a day. Likewise, you should stay vigilant when it comes to misinformation or fake news. Do not believe easily unless proven by a credible source.
Enumerate your Happy Pills
Even though you may find it difficult to stay optimistic, you need to push yourself to intake your happy pills regularly.
What are those happy pills?
Well, it is actually up to you! List down the people or even activities that make you happy or excited. Tweak those activities to be indoor friendly so you can do it at home. As the famous adage goes, happiness is a choice that we make.
Relax from the Daily Grind
If you are living in a lush community that has verdant landscapes or resort-inspired amenities, then it will be better to take a stroll outside and get that vitamin D from the sun that your body needs. Make sure to follow the minimum health protocols such as wearing of face mask and shield as well as social distancing. In addition, you can just sit on the sunbed and be mesmerized with the tranquility of your surroundings. Taking a breather once in a while is healthful to your mental health.
Have a Healthful Lifestyle
When you are experiencing mental distress, you need to eat healthy food to keep your mood and stamina up. When you are able to eat the right kind of food, it will tone down the cortisol level in your body.
In addition, you need to observe regular bedtime schedule. Sleep deprivation may worsen the pressure in your mental health. Thus, having a sleep routine will give the needed rejuvenation for your body. As much as possible, you need to avoid drinking caffeine before bedtime.
Avoid Substance Use and Vices
COVID-19 is a viral infection that directly targets the lungs. For this reason, you need to be extra careful with your respiratory system by avoiding substance use, tobacco, and alcohol vices. These are not a healthful way to cope with the stress you are experiencing. It will only make things worse instead work for you.
Reconnect to the Moral Compass
If you are a firm believer of a faith system, then you must reconnect to your God for comfort and assurance.
In any way, this is a perfect time to focus your energies to reconnect to a higher being. It will lift your spirits up, eventually. Furthermore, you can listen to worship talks or songs that will remind you that you are not alone in your struggles.
Establish a Lasting Financial Plan
The pandemic may have leave so much financial drought to almost everyone. However, this should not stop you from securing your future. The pandemic has made everyone realize that savings are not enough to make ends meet in the long run.
In this regard, you need to establish a lasting financial plan. One of the best ways is having a premium investment that will let the money work for you. You can invest on a real-estate property that is certain to appreciate in value because of the continues infrastructure and business developments. Indeed, no pandemic can stop an investment from growing.
Mental Health Activities and Exercises from WHO
There are practical activities suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) that you can also do besides the self-care strategies mentioned above.
These mental health activities include grounding, acting on your values, engaging, unhooking, making room, and being kind.
Are you overwhelmed with a stressful situation? This Grounding exercise will help you slow down from your thoughts and actions. This activity will help you reconnect with the rhythm of your body and the environment.
Just like with grounding, this exercise will help you to regain your focus. This time, it will help you notice what you are feeling. It will give you the way to identify your genuine emotions that keep you hooked and distracted from a long time.
There are three steps to Unhooking. First, you need to be curious with your personal thoughts and feelings. Second, you need to identify these by naming them. For instance, you can name your thoughts as “I notice that my thoughts are worries about my health” or “I can feel tightness in my chest.”
Once you are able to recognize this inner thoughts and feelings, you will be able to know how to return your full attention to what you are doing.
One of the ways to overcome feelings of anxiety, worry, and depression is when you know how to operate your values despite the chaos. You need to re-identify your principles as a person. Are you operating on the value of care? Is being helpful your second nature?
Once you have re-identified your values, you then get to choose which value/s is/are important to you. Consequently, act according to these values when challenges confront you once again.
4. Being Kind
When you are able to notice what you are feeling and thinking as well as being able to ground yourself on value, then it is now time to speak kindly to yourself.
If you are able to uplift yourself, then you will be able to do the same to others. Hence, motivation starts in you when you are able to unhook yourself and pamper yourself with kindness.
In order to feel this power of kindness, close your eyes and place your hand to the part of your body where it hurts the most. Imagine filling it with kindness, healing, acceptance, strength, and the like. Make yourself revitalized with a new spirit. Afterward, see if you can ripple that kindness to others, too.
Start being kind to yourself by practicing it here.
5. Making Room
It might be difficult to totally push negative thoughts and feelings away. For this reason, you can instead make room for them.
Allow those emotions to come and go as it is. Breathe. Let the positivity flow right into your lungs as you exhale the negativity. Let the emotions flow as the currents in the river flow. In this way, you will have more time and energy to thrive in whatever you are doing. Perhaps, you may even realize your purpose in the end.
Listen here on how you can make room for your thoughts and feelings.