Covid 19 and the resulting economic and social implications have negatively affected many people’s mental health. Isolation and financial worries have made a scary situation even more stressful.
Stress can cause the following:
Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
Worsening of chronic health problems
Worsening of mental health conditions
Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
Helen Lee Schifter has many techniques for keeping a positive mindset. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
Whether it’s going for a run, a walk, doing yoga or working out with weights at home, exercise is a great way to relieve stress. The endorphins released promote feelings of well-being, and of course it’s always important to stay healthy.
Take Deep Breaths
Deep breathing helps people calm down. Stretching and meditation are other good ways to relax.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is good for the immune system and better sleep = better mood.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol, Tobacco, and Substance Use
It’s easy to fall prey to our vices when stressed but in the end, these will only make us feel worse.
Get Vaccinated With a COVID-19 Vaccine When Available
The vaccine is becoming more widely available, and is the best way to stop the spread of the virus.
Make Time to Unwind
Do enjoyable activities like reading, puzzles, games. Even binge-watching a favorite series is a good way to relax.
Connect With Others
This is a great time to forge community connections. While social distancing is still in place, many communities have email list-serves and outside activities. Faith-based organizations have online services and worship groups. When walking around the neighborhood, take the time to get to stop and say hi to neighbors, maybe even make new friends. Connect with loved ones through phone calls, video calling, emails and even old fashioned snail mail! Helen Lee Schifter says she loves getting letters in her mailbox, and she enjoys sending them, as well. Letters can become little works of art with just some colored pencils or markers, stickers or even pressed flowers.
It’s important to take care of our bodies and minds during these tough times. The more energy we put into taking care of ourselves, the better we will feel and the easier it will be to get through this. Use this time to slow down and connect with others in whatever ways are possible. This could be a great time to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones, to look inside and to find out what is really important to us.