In the 21st Century, our culture has rightfully started to put a lot of focus on mental health and it has climbed our list of priorities. Combine this with a pandemic and limited social interactions, and it becomes of monumental importance to maintain a healthy mind. So we’ve come up with a few tips to help you survive any bouts of crippling depression that has come to define so many lives in the last year.
The consequences that the Covid-19 pandemic, widespread death, financial hardship and lockdowns have had include widely reported impact on mental health for people living around the world. In fact, a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll released in the middle of 2020 found that 53% of adults in the United States reported that “their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.”
The reasons behind this are immeasurable and many of these factors are out of our control, but there are still several strategies that you can employ to ensure that you’re mitigating the most devastating mental health impacts that the pandemic can have on you.
- Limit tech use
One of the primary problems with the Covid-19 pandemic has been our prolonged exposure and increasing reliance on technology. Tech is being leveraged to make up for countless shortcomings in our lifestyles caused by the pandemic, such as shopping, working and communicating. The toxic consequences of spending time on social media also came to the fore last year, when Netflix’s The Social Dilemma sent shockwaves around the globe.
So if you can make a conscious effort not necessarily to delete all your social media profiles and go off-the-grid completely, but simply to cut back on the time you spend in front of a computer screen or your cellphone, you are bound to see a marked improvement in your mental health and psychological well-being. If you feel uncomfortable scaling everything back all at once, try breaking it down into smaller steps to make the process easier for yourself.
- Cultivate a positive attitude
Before you can make any real changes anywhere else, you have to address your own internal thought processes if you want to get anywhere on your mission to balanced mental health. Embracing a positive mindset, thinking “happy thoughts”, being more grateful, mindful and just applying these to your circumstances and your surroundings will lighten the task of developing healthy habits and being happier in general far easier.
- Exercise regularly
A healthy mind requires a healthy body. The physical benefits of exercise speak for themselves, but the key factor here is the releasing of endorphins that a solid workout provides. In times of mental health crises, many turn to drugs for their fix of endorphins, but this method is far, far healthier and, by the end of it you probably won’t regret losing a bit of weight in the process, which can boost your self-esteem as well.
Keeping a journal is an often understated mental exercise that can really help you neatly compartmentalise the thoughts flying through your head. Without needing to share your personal affairs with anyone else, writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal can make a big difference in calming your mind.
- Declutter your living space
Your emotions are very much shaped by the environment you live in and if you live in a mess, your mind is probably not far behind. Clutter can cause stress in a variety of different ways. Messy rooms remind you of the work that you have to do. Calming activities that require space, such as a home workout, can be difficult when living in a mess. And even a messy computer desktop can drain your energy and make you feel stressed out. Declutter your living space and do a spring clean every now and then to make sure you have the organised environment required to compliment a healthy psyche. And make sure to make a habit of decluttering and do a regular clean up at least once a week.
- Find creative outlets
Finding ways to fuel your creative side can have a lasting impact on your mental health, in addition to simply being “fun”. Take up painting, write stories, learn a new recipe or learn to play a musical instrument. Taking up a creative hobby may be the perfect outlet for expressing negative thoughts that could manifest in other ways which would be far more harmful.
Unplugging is an incredible powerful mental activity that can take you a long way on your mission to slow down, gather your thoughts and to live in the present. It involves doing little to nothing in an attempt to enjoy some stress-free time. Turn your phone off, spend some time in the sun and drink a cup of tea and spend some time in your own company without any distractions. Watch how much easier it is to understand and come to terms with your emotions when the white noise is removed from the equation.
If you make a conscious effort to employ all of these techniques to one extent or another, it’s almost certainly going to have an incredibly positive impact on your mental health. And if you’re willing to practice some mindfulness and put in the legwork, you will be able to stave off the worst effects of the pandemic and will likely feel like a much better person for it.