5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health During The Pandemic
No matter where you live, you’ve probably experienced some degree of lockdown or government imposed restrictions in your local area since the pandemic started. For just under a year now, COVID-19 has dramatically altered the way we live, work and socialize.
These changes, precautions and significant hit to the economy have caused America’s mental health as a collective to take a dive.
If you’ve been feeling out of sorts and struggling to get out of bed, here are 5 small steps you can take to improve your mental health during lockdown.
1) Get close to nature
In some areas, leaving the home to exercise is permitted and even encouraged. If you can, step outside for some fresh air and light cardio. The physical activity will increase endorphins and relieve some stress.
2) Speak to a professional
It’s normal to feel levels of uncertainty and have down times in this uncertain climate. But if you find yourself having more bad days than good, it may be time to book an appointment with your primary care physician or a qualified mental health care professional. They will be able to help you address the underlying causes and refer you to a psychologist or treatment program if necessary.
3) Improve your diet
The stress of the pandemic and poor, panicked behaviour in supermarkets has caused many of us to rely more heavily on frozen or take away meals. Unfortunately, these meals are often packed with sodium and lacking in proper nutrients.
Not only do takeout meals increase weight gain, but studies have also shown that a diet containing predominantly processed foods may contribute to depression. Conversely, ensuring that you eat a diet rich in omega-3 and B vitamins can lower levels of anxiety, improve concentration and give you higher energy levels.
4) Establish a support group
The good news is, you’re not going through the pandemic alone. A good way to stay connected is to start a group chat with work colleagues, friends or family that you can’t socialize with in person. Schedule a weekly catch up to debrief and unwind, maybe with a glass of wine. Chat programs like Zoom will let you run video, while other third-party apps can be used to stream movies or play board games in sync.
5) Take up meditation
It might sound corny, but more and more stressed-out individuals are turning to meditation during the pandemic. Indeed, countless studies support meditation’s efficacy at reducing symptoms and anxiety and depression. There are plenty of resources online to get you started, including free smart-phone apps like Smiling Mind or Stop, Breathes & Think.
The last twelve months have been challenging, and we aren’t out of the woods yet. But by taking these 5 easy steps, you can start to boost your mental health during COVID-19.