A Guide to Maintaining Your Mental Health in this "New Normal"
2020 has been a heavy year (to put it plainly). Given that the times we’re living in are so unprecedented and filled with uncertainty, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. In fact, 72% of Americans say that their lives have been disrupted “a lot” or “some” by the coronavirus outbreak and the events that have unfolded because of it.
And it’s completely understandable. Information is rapidly changing, and it can be confusing and even scary. The good news is that we are not powerless when it comes to our mental health during COVID-19. There are several ways in which we can actively make an effort to prevent and reduce stress and stay on track as we navigate this pandemic and season of unexpected isolation.
So, we put together a quick guide to maintaining your mental health during this “new normal”.
Mental health wellness is a routine
While it may not be doable in all areas, try as much as possible to stick to your everyday routine. This will allow you to stay focused and maintain some bit of control over your situation. It’s that feeling of a loss of control that can affect your mental health most during coronavirus.
For example, if you’re suddenly working from home, keep it “business as usual” and set a few boundaries. Get out of your pajamas (we know, we know), shower, dedicate a space, and set hours to conduct your tasks. While it may sound silly and extraneous, it can greatly help your mental wellness to maintain professionalism and balance.
Don’t overdo it with the media
It’s important to stay up to date with what’s happening through the media, but don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as being too connected, and it can be very hard on our mental health and wellness.
Look to just get the facts you need to stay informed and safe. Otherwise, limit the news and social scrolling. Instead, fill your soul with positive and uplifting content. Or better yet, unplug entirely! A little digital detox may inspire you to pick up a new hobby or two, and you’ll likely see a huge decrease in overall loneliness and comparison.
Ways to improve mental health: Practice mindfulness
Look to practices like meditation, yoga, or prayer to help yourself focus on the present and improve your mental health. These types of mindfulness activities can be effective at tempering emotional reactions and accessing a sense of gratitude (even in the worst of circumstances).
If sitting with your thoughts isn’t really your thing, consider other ways to improve mental health thoughtfully. For example, do a “brain dump” of how and what you’re feeling by putting it all down on and pen and paper. It may be really interesting to go back and read about how you handled this all.
In addition to looking after your mental health during COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to also care for yourself physically. Exercise is an excellent way to do so while reducing stress and lifting spirits by stimulating endorphins. It’s a double win! So, try and get your heartrate up for at least 30 minutes each day.
While you may not be able to visit your usual yoga or spin studio, you can still go out on walks around the neighborhood or local park while socially distancing from others. If you prefer to stay at home, there are a ton of free apps available for download to get in a good workout from the comfort of your own living room.
Prioritizing how you eat benefits mental wellness
On the same note, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And, of course, stay hydrated.
If you’re looking for an easy (and delicious) way to increase your intake of superfoods and adaptogens, Dose shots have you covered. They’re super convenient and contain potent, always-organic ingredients that boost immunity and do wonders for the body and mind. Think turmeric, ginger, milk thistle and functional mushrooms as just a few of the hero ingredients. Adding Dose to your mental health wellness routine helps you feel your best, from the inside out.
Be kind to yourself
There is so much value in self-care and self-compassion when it comes to coping with difficult situations like your mental health and coronavirus. With that being said, be extra cautious of how you “speak” to yourself. Emotions like grief, disappointment, frustration and anger are all not-so-fun ones. But, we’re unfortunately flooded with them right now.
It’s okay to feel them – and embrace them! Rather than showing self-judgment or self-pity, steer clear of falling into any negative patterns and try to be your own best friend (now and always). Doing so will do wonders for maintaining your mental health.
Socialize (safely) and reach out to others
Whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor, show support to your network and lean on them when needed. It can be an extremely effective way to improve mental health and rejuvenate just to simply have a nice conversation. It can also serve as a good reminder that we are not in this alone. “Fear and isolation can lead to depression and anxiety. We need to make a point to connect with others regularly,” confirms Dr. Sullivan, PsyD.
Even if you’re physically isolated, you can text, call, or use video chat to stay in touch. Be sure not to let the seriousness of the world dominate the conversation, though. Instead share stories, ask questions, and laugh (maybe over a virtual glass of wine or two).
How to improve mental health during coronavirus: Additional resources
These are challenging and precarious times, no doubt, but we can and will get through them. Follow several or all of these tips for how to improve mental health and it’s possible you’ll come out even stronger than before!
If you’d like to learn more about coping with Coronavirus and caring for your mental health, the CDC has some great resources! Additionally, here are some mental health podcasts, apps, and articles we’re enjoying:
- Feeling Good podcast by Dr. David Burns
- Headspace app
- Hidden Brain podcast by NPR
- “meet 4 young activists revolutionizing mental health services” article in Vice
- Talkspace app
- “Therapists Are Doing Sessions in Locked Bathrooms While Patients Call in From Their Cars” article in Slate
- All in the Mind podcast by the BBC
- “What Your Facebook Posts Say About Your Mental Health” article in The Atlantic