As we navigate these challenging times, mental health has become more important than ever. Mental health is much more than a diagnosis. It's your overall psychological well-being—the way you feel about yourself and others as well as your ability to manage your feelings and deal with everyday difficulties. And while taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional health on your own. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It can boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your overall enjoyment of life. Fear right now is just rampant because of the unknown. The combination of stress, fear and other strong emotions, and the demands of home and work life can take their toll on mental health. Therefore, we decided to put together some steps to help protect your mental health during this challenging time.
Acknowledging the impact
As you spend time at home, getting used to the different lifestyle can be more challenging than it seems. It is important to be prepared to be surprised at how difficult the transition is. One of the biggest challenges you will face is when working from home since your home is filled with distractions you simply don’t encounter at work, especially if you have other people living, working, or trying to get school work done. As a result, it’s essential to be as patient as possible. This is not the time to expect perfection. You need to give yourself some time to adjust to the new normal, figure out your schedule and how to work effectively from home, as well as what habits and tips work for you.
Create a routine
While there may be many factors beyond your personal control now, including a loss of predictability, you can exert some control and familiarity by sticking to a schedule. If you have young or elderly people in your life, that predictability can be very comforting. So, get up at a reasonable time, get dressed, and have a plan for your day! At the same time, don’t be too rigid. Try not to overschedule yourself and include breaks if you can. Think of it as a “summer schedule,” which may be somewhat more relaxed than a typical routine.
Manage the intake of information
While you’re home, it’s easy to check in on social media whenever you like and perhaps have the television on in the background. But the constant barrage of news is only going to elevate your anxiety and stress. It’s important to stay informed, but you probably don’t need to listen to every news report, which just stirs anxiety throughout the day without adding anything you need to know. If you feel compelled to know what’s going on, watch a half-hour of news in the morning, then check a news website or two in the afternoon.
Keep up your good practices
While some joke about binge-eating or drinking to manage the stress, it’s more important than ever to keep up your healthy habits. Stay hydrated, get some exercise and fresh air if you can, eat healthy, and avoid too much alcohol or sugar. Taking care of yourself in these ways is also going to have a positive impact on your mental health. In addition, it’s a good idea to add some practices that may bolster mental health. Start each day with a gratitude practice, listing a few things for which you are grateful. YouTube has free yoga and meditation videos. Practice deep breathing exercises throughout your day.
Tipson Tip: Did you know that the process of brewing your own tea can be very calming and can help keep your stress levels under control? Tea has the added benefit of containing L-theanine, an amino acid that reduces mental and physical stress and keeps us calm.
It is extremely important to monitor your mental health, especially if you’re prone to anxiety or depression. If your inability to focus or your feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed are making it hard to function, look to what has worked for you in the past. Reading, staying connected, or even remote therapy might help you cope in the age of social distancing!