5 Pandemic Coping Tips to Improve Your Mental Health
The lockdown has severely impacted all of us in all aspects ranging from the physical to the financial. One aspect in particular that the COVID-19 pandemic has quite affected is our mental health. Lockdown has forced all of us into our homes and with the boundaries between work and comfort blurred, one’s mental health can easily take a dip. In fact, research has shown that the pandemic’s mental health effects are quite significant. From June 2020, 13% of adults began partaking in or increasing substance abuse while 11% have recurring suicide ideations. As the human race continues to battle this deadly disease, it is urgent now more than ever to take not only physical health into consideration but also mental and emotional health.
Just as it is important to nourish your body, it is essential to take care of your mental health amidst the pandemic. Simple steps and changes in behavior and habits can make a big impact on how you think and feel in the middle of all this chaos. Read below for COVID-19 mental health coping strategies and tips.
1. Waking Up An Hour Earlier
Waking up early might sound like a drag for most people, especially those who are working but did you know that there are surprising mental health benefits to waking up an hour earlier? According to a study by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers, getting out of bed an hour ahead of your typical waking up time slashes the depression risk by 23%. The recent work from home setup the COVID-19 pandemic has placed most of the workforce under has caused a blur in boundaries resulting in shifting of sleeping hours. Getting up early is an important habit to start if you want to improve your mental state in the pandemic since research suggests that getting greater light exposure during the day leads to hormonal impacts that influence the mood.
2. Meditate for At Least 10 Minutes Daily
The COVID-19 pandemic is without a doubt overwhelming and has brought about anxiety and a general sense of grief and despair to many. Couple it with the blurring boundaries between the workplace and home and we can easily find ourselves stressed. Meditating for at least 10-13 minutes daily is helpful for decreasing anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and can even lower blood pressure. Beginners can take five minutes out of their day to meditate. It is recommended to meditate at least once a day but the frequency is entirely dependent on the individual’s schedule. Meditation apps are widely available and come with instructions to guide you into taking some time off to relax and look at the bright side in the midst of the pandemic.
3. Set a 1-Hour Time Limit for Social Media and News
Now more than ever people are glued to technology with us being in our homes all day. We find ourselves scrolling endlessly amidst a sea of news mixed with misinformation and all these can fill us with stress and despair, which is counterproductive to our COVID-19 pandemic self-care strategy since a University of Nottingham study indicates that people suffering from stress are more susceptible to COVID-19. Apart from setting work from home boundaries, set limits for screen time as well. Cut your scrolling and watching to an hour and read only from reputable news and medical sources. Slashing your online time can also help you meditate and spend more time connecting with your loved ones.
4. Opt For Chamomile Tea Before Bedtime
The perfect partner for working at home in this pandemic is coffee. Over a billion people around the world consume coffee and while it is notable for its antioxidant properties, its caffeine content has been known to exacerbate anxiety symptoms due to its stimulant properties. Opt for a milder variant in the form of chamomile or lavender tea. Habitual consumption of chamomile tea has been known to reduce generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms. Other benefits of chamomile tea include anti-inflammatory properties and stomach pain relief.
Tea consumption is linked to reducing anxiety and improving relaxation and sleep. Other tea variations you can try for to ease any stress and tension experienced during the pandemic include lemon balm and green tea, both of which help with improving focus and reducing insomnia.
5. Practice Mindful Eating
Being stuck at home can lead to us developing unhealthy eating habits. In fact, six eating habits developed during the pandemic were identified, namely mindless eating, increased food consumption, appetite decrease, pandemic-related reductions in intake, and disordered eating. Poor eating habits can result in anxiety about one’s weight and self-perception and the only way to combat these negative ideations are through mindful eating.
Mindful eating is quite a broad concept that can take some time to grasp. For starters, here are some practices you can adapt to keep your physical and mental health in check this pandemic:
Take a minute to fully digest and contemplate and take in the food before taking another bite.
Chew each mouthful 20-40 times before swallowing to take in the essence of the food
Limit the portion of your food to nine inches or less
Incorporate plant-based foods into your meal. Research links consumption of plant-based food with a reduced risk of acquiring COVID-19.
The past two years have been trying for all of us. This COVID-19 health crisis has forced us not only inside our homes but inside our minds, as well. Living and working in isolation can take a toll on our mental health and we can find ourselves feeling depressed and anxious. Taking steps towards improving and caring for our mental health in the midst of a pandemic is a helpful way to restore our positivity, stay informed, and keep ourselves holistically healthy.