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Coping with Mental Health During a Pandemic

In these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not uncommon to struggle with maintaining your mental health. The impact of this pandemic has lasted far longer than anyone anticipated, resulting in added stress and mental challenges for people everywhere.  Isolation and a lack of control has caused feelings of anxiety and loneliness.  

Whether you yourself are struggling or know someone close to you who is, it is important to be present for one-another.  We need to support each other and remind each other that although these times are challenging, eventually we will move beyond this crisis.  Albeit, life on the other side may never look exactly as it did before. 

Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, the disease itself isn't the only threat to our health and well-being. Recent statistics from the CDC show that depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are shooting up among Americans.  Even our dreams are being affected, social and mainstream media outlets are broadcasting the message: the world is dreaming about COVID-19.  But given those conditions are likely to continue for a while, is there anything you can do to help support your own mental health, as well as your loved ones and employees?  

Self-care strategies to help you cope:

  • Take care of your physical health
    • Get regular exercise
    • Eat healthy
    • Get enough sleep
    • Relax
  • Take care of your mental health
    • Create a routine
    • Set personal and/or professional goals 
    • Connect with others
    • Try to focus on positive things happening in your life
  • Take care of others
    • Call a friend or family member
    • Check in on an elderly neighbor
    • Donate to a local food pantry
    • Schedule a video call with old friends or family

Over the summer many people found peace and joy in connecting with their family and friends in socially distant outdoor gatherings.  With the fall and winter months come shorter days, cooler weather and fewer opportunities to safely socialize.  This reality alongside a second wave of COVID-19 may bring to the surface some of the darkest of the early pandemic fears.  It is important to prepare your mental health and explore ways to monitor yourself and those around you.  

While we all banded together in resiliency this spring, the upcoming months may create more isolation and prove to be even more difficult than the initial quarantine.  New methods of human connection that were established have since fallen by the wayside and there were summer moments that almost felt “normal.”  However, as the temperatures grow colder it is important to identify ways to cope with struggling mental health, and reinstitute the methods used earlier in the year for human connection.  

Zoom call

Focusing on your physical health can have a positive impact on your mental health as well. It is important to make sure to stay well-rested and give yourself time to relax. Trying to maintain a healthy diet and exercising will help to improve your physical and mental health. 

Developing routines and sticking to them is essential to maintaining good mental health. Figuring out what works for you, whether it be a physical activity or reading a book, will help to keep your mind focused on something other than COVID-19.  A good idea to help strengthen your mental health is to set monthly goals. Having either personal or professional goals will give you something to work towards and keep you motivated. By setting goals, you are in control of your own life. In a time where you are unable to control what is going on in the world as a whole, you are able to hone in on managing your own life and bettering yourself.  

Socialization can be challenging during a pandemic, however, it is important to remain connected with others.  Scheduling a regular walk with a family member or friend is a great way to stay connected. If you are not be able to spend time face to face, taking the time to set up a virtual call with your loved ones can help preserve feelings of social integration. 

There is a therapeutic value in shifting your focus away from your own fears and anxiety and toward others in need.  Families might feel the stress of having everyone working/ schooling under one roof, with each person wishing for alone time in their own routine.   However, reaching out to others who might be living by themselves, may make you grateful for the daily human connection you receive in your own house (even if it’s an eye roll from a teenager).   

Food pantries all over the country are in desperate need for funds, supporting your community can shift your focus away from yourself and provide you with the positive feelings that come from doing good for others.   

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Montreal Gazette, USA Today, Forbes