You Can Protect Your Mental Health During This Difficult Time
The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal on the state of mental health in Americans. We’ve been limited in how we can celebrate birthdays, graduations, and weddings. We’ve seen loved ones hooked up to a ventilator fighting for their lives. We have an entire hygienic routine every time we leave or return to our homes: Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, repeat.
Here are a few tips of things you can do to help protect your mental health during this ongoing pandemic.
Get Some Exercise
We don’t have to go to the gym to stay in shape. There are actually plenty of exercises and routines we can do from the comfort of our 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 our endurance and strength, exercise can trigger the release of endorphins in our 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.
Stay in Contact With Loved Ones
Not being able to meet with those we care about can be detrimental to our mental health. Prolonged loneliness and social isolation can increase our 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.
Leave the House
Most states still have limitations when it comes to where we can go, what we can do, and who we can see. Yet at this point in the pandemic, we realize that our mood declines and we feel fatigued the longer we stay couped up 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 we’re feeling down and lonely in the house, it might be advantageous to spend some time in the backyard or go for a walk at the park before our fellow citizens get there.
Reach Out to a Therapist
If we’re already struggling with our mental health prior to the pandemic, there’s a good chance that our situation has actually worsened as the months continued. Luckily, the forced closure of most mental health facilities doesn’t mean that we currently have no access to care. Many counselors, 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 our emotions and learn how to cope.
Get a Pet
Most people would appreciate coming home from work every day to be greeted by a friendly dog or cat. But when loneliness and sadness become excessive during quarantine, a pet may be exactly what we need to feel better.
Even better, we may be able to help empty out our local animal shelters. The connection between pet ownership and mental health has been long studied. In fact, a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, mental health improvements were seen in about 74% of pet owners.
During a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, it’s important that we prioritize our mental health. Not only will this make us feel less lonely and like we have a greater purpose, but it’ll also save us from a ton of emotional turmoil that we’ll have to sort through once COVID-19 is gone for good.