During these harsh times, it’s mandatory to take care of your mental health. These tips can help you maintain mental health during a pandemic.
Even as its end looms near, it’s far from likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will be the last public health emergency of our lifetimes.
There is now a growing consensus that serious pandemics and epidemics will become more frequent due to a growing world population.
And this carries an increased chance of new illnesses jumping from livestock and wild animals to humans.
It’s now understood that these major events often come with an accompanying mental health crisis. And this can be almost as serious as the pandemic or epidemic event itself.
Because mental health is tied to the robustness of our immune systems and our ability to make rational decisions, it’s important to take good care of it.
5 Tips To Maintain Mental Health
Here are a few ways you can maintain mental health before and when the next major crisis hits:
1. Take Care Of The Essentials First
Not knowing what can happen in the future can lead to anxiety and depression, even before anything bad actually happens.
While it’s not always possible for everyone, those with the means should commit to having the essentials at home at all times.
These include a few week’s worths of non-perishable supplies, as well as recommended hygiene essentials such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and hand soap.
If you need certain supplies to be able to work from home, you should make sure to have those on hand as well.
Having an emergency fund that could tide you over for three to six months is also recommended. It’s a safe nest in case you suddenly need to find a new source of income.
Having what you need on hand and knowing you can make it for the next few months can go a long way in helping you be less anxious about the future.
2. Limit Your Use Of Social Media
Frequent social media use has ironically been shown to increase feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Social media shares tend to be sensationalized and are quite often fake news. Even worse, most shares of bad news may be unactionable.
In other words, you’re told or reminded of something that makes you feel bad, but you’re unable to do anything about it. This is just about the last thing you need in a serious emergency.
Use a timer to limit your use of social media to just less than 15 minutes a day or even less, if at all possible.
Restrict your feed to focus on personal updates from friends and family. And limit your consumption of news feeds to just a couple of minutes a day.
Instead of social media, use video calls to stay in touch with people you care about.
3. Book Sessions With Qualified Therapists
Even before a serious emergency happens, it’s helpful to have sessions with qualified therapists or psychiatrists.
Periodically taking the time to have your mental health assessed is just as important as regularly going to the dentist.
You can even do this remotely through a video call, if necessary.
Doing this will help ensure that you are much better equipped to understand and handle your emotions if something serious does happen.
4. Work On Improving Your Physical Health
While staying home is usually recommended in serious public emergencies, doing so can also have its own serious health consequences.
Staying inside can decrease the amount of exercise we get and cause us to eat more preserved and prepackaged foods as well.
Unfortunately, the lack of regular exercise and reliance on processed foods can exacerbate existing health issues. And this almost always has implications for your mental health.
To offset these negative effects, you may want to make it a habit to exercise and eat healthily even before the next emergency hits.
Making healthy choices a habit does a few things:
- First, it can prevent you from being more vulnerable to anxiety and depression when an emergency hits.
- Second, over time, the mental load of making these positive choices is reduced. This means it will take much less work for you to stay healthy regardless of the situation.
- Third, a good diet and exercise can reduce stress by reducing stress hormones and releasing more endorphins in your system. This helps offset the worst effects of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
5. Stay Productive
Do your best to stay productive. Boredom and feeling unaccomplished can exacerbate depression, which can lead to serious consequences over time.
If you’re able to work from home, do your best to be extra productive. If not, try to improve yourself in some measurable way.
You can do that by taking online courses, doing creative work, or cleaning and optimizing your home. Or doing any activity that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning.
Try to be as comfortable as possible when working at home or performing other worthwhile activities.
Wearing home socks while working, dressing up appropriately but comfortably during online meetings, and using an ergonomic chair should set you up to become more productive, even if you’re just working from home.
Mental health is a complex issue that has implications on your physical health, relationships, and your very sense of being.
Before the next world-changing event happens, we must be prepared. And I’m not talking just in terms of supplies and finances, but in our approach to our mental well-being as well.
If you feel that you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or some other mood disorder, get in touch with a qualified health professional as soon as possible.