COVID-19 has turned all aspects of life upside down. You have likely experienced an upheaval on multiple fronts: personal, professional, physical, emotional, and mental. Contrary to what many believe, the challenge is not just limited to the threat of physical illness—it’s also about learning to deal with the emotional difficulties of distancing and isolation.
Hopefully, you have been regularly checking in on your mental health over this year of fear and stress. Psychologists and researchers have long emphasized the connection between mental health and a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. As such, any issue with your mental health must be dealt with by a professional to prevent it from harming your overall condition even further.
Maintaining your emotional health means you can maintain social relationships and work productivity. You will be able to adapt to changes and face any adversity with level-headedness and logic. Your mental health is crucial in treating yourself with compassion to get through this tough time.
If you are finding it challenging to manage your emotional health, here are four simple steps you can take to keep yourself strong amidst this pandemic:
1. Maintain Your Connections
The pandemic has only dictated physical distancing and no other kind. Maintaining social connections has never been easier—software and app companies have stepped up in providing people with many opportunities to connect virtually. After months of living in a pandemic, people have come up with so many different ways to virtually spend time together: movie nights, escape rooms, trivia games, Pictionary, karaoke, happy hour, and more.
Set aside time each day to reach out to a friend or loved one through a phone call or video chat. If you’re isolating alone or with just a partner, make it a point to talk aloud to another person for even just 15 to 20 minutes a day. Talk through your shared feelings of stress or boredom, or challenges at work.
2. Stop “Doomscrolling”
The pandemic and vaccine situations are changing daily, so it’s more important than ever to be informed. However, you may be tempted to spend hours “doomscrolling” on social media, aka consuming a large quantity of negative content all at once. Doomscrolling will tear your emotional equilibrium to shreds.
Ground yourself in science by looking in on official sources, such as your state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Excise the speculation and rumors—these aren’t good for your health! Limit yourself to two shifts of news intake—thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night should be more than enough.
3. Do Something With Your Hands
A relaxing hobby will go a long way in helping you relax and keep your mind from spiraling into despair. It’s even better if it involves working with your hands—manual activity relieves stress, promotes creativity, and improves neuroplasticity.
Turn off your computer, put your phone down, and take up gardening, baking, knitting, puzzles, or immersive board games—just anything that is far from your day-to-day. Setting aside time for a relaxing activity will refresh your mind, and the accomplishment of creating something new is one of the best feelings in the world.
4. Help Others
Reaching out to people in their time of need can benefit the person receiving the support and the helper.
Find purpose in helping others. Engage your elderly grandparents in a long video call, coordinate with your neighbors to assist those who need it, or check out virtual opportunities to help out a nonprofit organization of your choice. Altruism and kindness are skills you should be practicing, especially in a worldwide pandemic!
Stress is a normal psychological reaction to any crisis. However, it’s important not to dwell in anxiety and take steps to protect your emotional health and decrease your burden every day. Proactively taking care of your mental health will help you cope with life’s ongoing challenges—and this is important now, more than ever.
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