The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of people their lives, jobs, and a sense of security and stability. Fear and uncertainty continue to lead to anxiety and depression for many of us. If you are one of those people whose mental well-being has taken a hit during the pandemic, below are some things you can practice to build your mental resilience, feel more optimistic, and boost your emotional wellness:
1. Focus on what you can control
Fear and negative feelings can make you replay in your mind all the ways the virus has upended your life: “No more going to the movies/concerts/malls/restaurants,” “No more gatherings with friends/family,” “Your choice, at work is either to resign or take a pay cut.” Because all these are beyond your control, thinking about them will only worsen your anxieties. So, shift your focus to parts of your life that you can manage: your daily routine, the meals you will prepare for yourself or your family, and new goals you want to achieve now that you have extra time to spare. Take this time to practice mindfulness and putting more effort into your mental well-being as well.
2. Avoid information overload
More often than not, you want to stay on top of the latest developments about the pandemic; but when you stay glued to your phone, TV, or computer, you will most likely get inundated with bad news like increasing mortality rates, overwhelmed health care workers, or other upsetting and depressing stories. To ease this toll on your mental health, studies suggest that you set boundaries by learning to limit the time you spend watching the news or reading the news on your social media feed.
3. Seek out ways to help
News might get a little negative but there are also pandemic-related news that are uplifting from people donating to the less fortunate, new businesses thriving, and other stories of generosity and compassion. Look for these human-interest bits when you scroll through your newsfeeds to minimize your anxiety and depression. Hopefully, those stories will inspire you so that you can also shine your own light and be the positivity you want to see in your community!
4. Take brain breaks and entertain yourself
Do activities that can take your mind off stress, such as rewatching your favorite sitcom on Netflix or Youtube, doing jigsaw puzzles/cross-stitch patters/paint-by-numbers, and engaging in activities that will allow you to move your body which is proven to help boost endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, all of the feel-good chemicals in your brain. They make you feel more energized and happier. Another activity you can do to cope with the Coronavirus anxiety is video chatting with friends and family. Studies show that a lack of social connection can not only hurt our mental health, but also, ultimately, our physical health. Being isolated can also result in more anxiety and depression.
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5. Set Goals
When there is nothing much to do, resist the temptation to fall into a state of idleness, which will only make your life seem more lost and hopeless. Challenge yourself by taking up new hobbies or projects. It can be as simple as redecorating your room, learning how to bake, learning how to play a musical instrument, or decluttering the different spaces in your house. When you have accomplished something, you will not feel as aimless.
6. Practice kindness with others
Just because you’re not a frontliner does not mean you can’t do your part in helping ease the anxiety. Cook food and share it with those whom you think are in need; donate personal protective equipment to hospitals and other frontliners; order baked goods from your neighbor who was furloughed or laid off from his/her work; get takeout from your favorite restaurant to support small business. There are many ways we can practice kindness to others. We can also do this by checking in with our friends and loved ones and ask how they’re doing. You’ll never know who needs it!
7. End every day with gratitude
Every night before going to bed, think of all that you have accomplished, learned or were blessed with during the day. Research shows that cultivating gratitude will help alleviate any negativity you might be feeling, and reminds you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.
Doing any of the above does not mean that you should ignore the dangers of COVID-19. But if you keep a positive outlook and help those whom you can – all while practicing minimum health standards – you can reduce your stress and better manage your anxiety during these uncertain times.
Written by Jacq of Mindnation