People are reaching out more and more for help with their mental health in the COVID-19 crisis and it’s no wonder! The world has simply not experienced a health scare and a shut down of society like this since the Spanish Flu in 1918.
While we have to deal with the real threat to our physical health, our mental health is taking a hit from every direction. It is important that we identify the indicators of mental stress and do our best to find the tools to help us.
In May, The Washington Post headlined with an article about the increase in mental health issues due to COVID-19. “Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.” We can see that these worries have come to fruition and so we must deal with the reality.
Here are some tips and tools to help keep your mind healthy:
Limit Social Media
Social media has allowed us to connect with co-workers, family and friends in an instant which has been invaluable during a time of social distancing. But one major downside to social media is the over-exposure to news around the world. The news on COVID, job losses, society shutdowns is accessible 24/7 and so the crushing weight of this information is bound to burden your subconscious. It’s time to really put boundaries between you and the social media world. Put time limits on your phone, choose a day during the week you don’t go on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or news websites. Tuning out for a while can do wonders to reset your perspective.
Continuous loss of sleep affects your energy, physical health and mental agility. Sleep is critical for recharging the brain and body after a long day, but during times of stress it may be even more elusive. You’ll hear all types of suggestions about how to get the best sleep, but everyone is different. Do what works best for you: taking hot showers or baths before bed, eliminating electronics in the bedroom, wearing eye masks, using a sound machine, or drinking hot milk. Find what works and stick to it routinely; but don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for advice during this restless time.
Find Your Stress Reliever
Everyone has something that relieves their stress but it’s paramount that you find something that doesn’t do you more harm than good. Go for a walk, explore the outdoors, safely socialize, work on passion projects, or establish personal goals and set out to achieve them. But avoid quick-fixes or harmful habits that will only elevate your stress in the long run.
Talk to Someone
If you are nervous about talking about your mental health, take baby steps towards reaching out. Start with a text first if face-to-face is too hard. Try reaching out to your friends or family so they’re aware of your struggle. Never be afraid of seeking professional help.
Being stressed and suffering from anxiety is a normal bi-product of abnormal times; and it’s crucial we do our part to stay grounded and to look after each other. Find what works for you to ensure healthy sleep habits, healthy boundaries with social media, and healthy coping skills; but seek help when you need it. You’ll find you’re not the only one suffering and that there are people and tools to help you through this.