6 Essential Tools to Protect your Mental Health During COVID-19
The Collective Rising |
It seems as though the coronavirus pandemic has taken over the world.
Pandemics such as the one we are currently grappling with, often ignite fear, anxiety and erratic behaviors. When fear takes control, both our nervous system and emotional part of our brain go into overdrive. This biological response often leads to impulsiveness, panic, and feeling out of control emotionally.
If you’ve been feeling anxious, worried, sad, frustrated, or downright frightened, know that you are not alone—millions of people around the world are experiencing the same exact feelings that you are.
Take a deep breath and follow the expert-backed strategies listed below to improve your mental and emotional well-being.
Cut back on your news and social media intake.
The Collective Rising urges members to limit their exposure to the news and to customize their social media feeds—by following more accounts and pages that make them feel good. Experts have reported that our brains are built to problem solve. When we are already feeling fearful, we naturally seek out stimuli in our external environment to reinforce the feeling of fear we are experiencing. The brain then deletes, distorts, and generalizes all incoming information that does not align with our current emotional state or beliefs.
To keep fear and panic at bay, we recommend limiting your news consumption to less than 30 minutes per day and also setting a time limit for checking your social media usage (keep that under one hour).
Seek out information only from reliable sources.
There are a lot of news platforms out there, so be sure to only read reports from legitimate and reliable sources. For COVID-19-related updates, we are following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), John Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Create and adhere to a routine.
The Collective Rising knows that the closure of offices, schools, gyms, and social spaces have disrupted everyone’s daily routine. To maintain some sense of normalcy, we suggest that you create “a new normal” routine.
Try to stick to as much of your pre-coronavirus schedule as possible. We suggest trying to wake up, eat meals, and go to bed at the same time each day. Additionally, getting dressed and out of pajamas, even if you aren’t leaving the house, is essential.
By removing some of the day-to-day uncertainty that has been unfortunately synonymous with COVID-19, you’ll be able to focus on things that are actually in your control.
Keep busy – with positive activities.
Engaging in positive activities that distract you from current events can be helpful for your mental health. Whether you find pleasure in watching movies, crafting, baking, partaking in an online fitness class, taking a video tour of a museum, or enrolling in an online course is up to you. There are a lot of cool resources available for you to explore – use this time to make the most of them.
Prioritize nutrition and watch what you eat.
Stress spikes our cravings for comfort foods, which often are high in sugar and saturated fat. While instant gratification may be appealing, these types of foods often lead to an immediate high and subsequent crash that can increase stress, irritability, and anxiety as well as weaken your immune system. There’s no need to feel shame if you choose to indulge, but when choosing snacks and meals, have comfort foods in moderation and instead, opt for foods that are high in protein and potassium as they are proven to help produce feelings of calmness. Also, try making as many of your meals as you can from scratch. Not only will you be reducing your risk of exposure to the virus, but you’ll likely be making and eating healthier foods.
Be Mindful of your thoughts.
Fear feeds off of negative thoughts and beliefs. The Collective Rising encourages members to try to reframe their thoughts so they can better manage their emotions. For example, if you’re thinking “this is a scary time right now,” we encourage you to extend that thought and say “this is a scary time right now, but I am taking the proper precautions such as washing my hands, practicing social distancing, exercising and take care of my health, and maintaining connection with my loved ones through video calls.”
We hope these mental health coping tools bring some solace to you. However, if your symptoms of stress and anxiety significantly worsen and you feel as though they are impairing your ability to function, please seek professional counseling immediately.