Finding Peace in the Pandemic:
How to Focus on Mental Health & Self-Care During COVID-19
While we’re very much on #TeamHappyThoughts when it comes to almost everything in life, we’re not going to sit here and deny the obvious—COVID-19 feels (and honestly, just is) heavy on everyone’s hearts, minds, and lives right now.
We’re not starting off this article this way to bum you out. We just want you to know immediately that what you’re feeling—whether it’s sadness or stress or anger or a super complicated mix of all of those emotions and more—is valid.
This pandemic is overwhelming and hard and affecting us all in ways we’ve maybe never had to deal with before. No matter what you’re facing in this unsure and uncertain time, it’s hugely important to make sure you’re doing what you can to take care of yourself.
Here’s the most important thing, guys—this isn’t just advice for people who have pre-existing mental health concerns or conditions. This is for everyone, everywhere. Because this stuff is hard. And it’s okay if you’re struggling.
There are ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your mental health amidst the chaos. While we can’t promise that these tips for self-care are going to solve all of your COVID-19 problems (if we could fix it all for you, we would), we do think that if you give a few of them a try, you’ll notice a difference in your mood, your mindset, and your mental health.
Be Firm About a Few Basics
If you already struggle with stress, anxiety, panic, or other emotional or mental obstacles, you probably already understand how a few simple, basic steps every day can help you proactively manage your threshold for anxiety and stress.
- Hold firm to a few very basic steps throughout your day to ensure you’re not putting extra stressors on yourself.
- Get enough sleep.
- Make sure you’re eating good, nutritious foods.
- Avoid leaning on indulgences that trigger stress or anxiety (this differs for everyone).
- Exercise in a safe way.
Chat Online With a Counselor
One of the biggest problems that has cropped up as a result of COVID-19 is that, because we’re supposed to socially distance to protect public health, we’re not all able to visit our therapists or counselor. That can be an incredibly, incredibly difficult blow to deal with—especially if you’re used to visiting your therapist on a regular basis.
But just because you can’t go to your therapist’s office doesn’t mean you should be cut off from help. Contact your therapist to see if they’re able to do a virtual session or even just chat on the phone with you. There are a lot of counselor out there who have transitioned to this service during this time.
If you don’t have a counselor you see regularly but would like to start, there are lots of resources online that will connect you with licensed professionals in a variety of ways—you can text, you can call, you can video chat. Don’t be embarrassed or worried about seeking out help at this way—it’s one of the best things you can do to care for yourself.
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Be Aware of Your Red Flags
Managing stress can sometimes run smoother if you’re aware of your personal identifiers of when you’re beginning to feel off your game. Red flags differ from person to person and they can be anything—from an upset stomach to feeling overwhelmed to wanting to sleep the day away. Just by recognizing your triggers and analyzing your actions (like checking COVID statistics compulsively or fidgeting etc.) can help you develop a way to combat these red flags.
For example, if you notice one of your red flags is tension, by consciously recognizing you’re feeling tense, you’re able to deploy a plan of action to help battle that—actively reduce your tensions by taking a walk outside, developing a breathing loop, playing with your pet.
Everyone’s red flags and everyone’s strategy to combat red flags will be different. This might take time, but if you work at it and focus on caring for yourself, you’ll develop healthy habits for dealing with these red flags.
Develop a Routine
This can be a super helpful, quick tip to really get you rolling. Sometimes, when you’re stressed, depressed, upset, or anxious, the thought of getting out of bed and starting your day can be totally overwhelming.
Create a morning routine that gets you excited. Don’t rush into your day without giving yourself some dedicated time and space for transitioning into a headspace that works for you. Stretch, have coffee, listen to a podcast, brush your teeth, drink a glass of water, make a great breakfast—do any combination of healthy habits that aid in getting you up, around, and going.
Safely Maintain Connections with Loved Ones
To be clear, we’re not suggesting that you visit with your friends and family in person. But, just because we all need to social distance ourselves doesn’t mean we need to isolate ourselves.
Host Facetime or Skype Happy Hours with your friends. Chat with your loved ones on the phone. Watch a movie at the same time with your BFF. Play online games with your sister.
Do what you need to do to connect with the ones you love in a safe, virtual way. There’s no shame in wanting human connection—it’s something we all need and deserve.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Now’s the time for extra compassionate, you guys—for others and especially for yourself. This is a quick tip but an important one. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you’re not accomplishing everything you want, if you’re not able to tackle a ton of “quarantine projects,” if you have a day or two where you just feel overwhelmed.
All of these reactions are very normal—because what’s going on right now isn’t normal. If you don’t feel like your best self in this moment, that’s okay. If you need help, ask for it. There’s so much right now that we’re not able to control, but if you can stay in the present, focus on taking care of yourself, and work hard on being compassionate with yourself and those around you, you’re already taking a lot of healthy steps.
Above all, remember: You’re loved. You’re important. You can do this.
Self-care doesn’t always look like bath bombs and facials and finally taking the time to trim your own bangs—sometimes self-care is really investing in your mind. Self-care is checking in on your thoughts, on your feelings, and asking, what’s going on here—is everything okay? Self-care is realizing that you might need a little help and then taking steps—small or big—toward getting that help.
These tips are always, always relevant—but if you find that you’re struggling during this unsure time in the world, we gently encourage you to start on the path toward helping yourself! And remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If a few of these practices don’t resonate with you, that’s OK—there are always good, healthy strategies out there for putting your mental health first!
If you have insight on how to take care of your mental health during this crisis or you’re desperately looking for some advice on how to start your path toward taking care of your mental health, drop a comment in our comment section below.
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