Rand is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She competes in track and field, can speak Arabic fluently, and likes to run, read, and paint.
6 mental health tips for a happier you
April 28, 2021
Do you know that feeling when just about anything sets you off in an outrageous manner? Like when the most minor inconveniences feel like the end of the world and will ruin your mood completely? Then when you finally calm down, you may think “What was that about?” – only to realize that your outburst wasn’t about the inconvenience at all. If you’ve been feeling this way, you are not not alone. The emotional roller coaster that is Covid-19 has confusion, uncertainty, and frustration to virtually everyone.
The pandemic had many feeling emotionally pummeled. Many are facing harsh challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming, and can lead to depressive episodes or strong emotions in both adults and children. While it is necessary to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus, maintaining your mental health during the process is just as important. Here are some tips to help keep your mental health in check during a pandemic.
Get plenty of sleep
If you’re going to prioritize one traditional self-care strategy right now, it is crucial to get adequate and regular sleep. It may seem like a small thing, but it impacts so much. Studies have shown the less sleep we get, the more hypersensitive we are. When your body is sleep-deprived, it can cause a lot of anxious and stressful feelings, making you view things more negatively.
Of course, there’s a good chance the stress and anxiety may be interrupting your sleep schedule, so prioritizing sleep isn’t exactly easy. But it’s worth putting in extra effort to make sure your sleep is as protected as possible, whether that’s through adjusting your screen time or trying to keep a regular schedule. You can double down on pre-bed relaxation exercises, or talk to your doctor about other steps you can take.
Take a mental health day
Everyone has to deal with varying levels of stress. Stress can be even more difficult to manage if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety. When you start to feel overwhelmed, it might be time to take a quick break. Sometimes taking a day off (a so-called “mental health day”), especially when you’re stressed and burned-out, can be the best thing one can do. It would be a much-needed break to pause and review what is happening. You would most likely come back with improved energy and a new, less-stressed perspective.
Know your limits
Another way to manage stress and emotions is to know when you’re doing too much. When you’re overwhelmed, you can get feelings of frustration, worry and sadness, all feeding into negative emotional spirals. If you find yourself claustrophobically thinking, it may be best to take things one day at a time. Knowing when you’ve done too much, for the sake of your mental well-being, stepping back and knowing your limits will help you and those around you.
Of course, it is easier said than done, but when you know you’ve reached your limits, take a deep breath or a break if needed. For example, if you find yourself super stressed in the middle of a study session, try taking a 10-15 minute break to play with a pet, stretch or walk outside, or listen to calming music.
Try to see the good in things
With all the negative effects the Covid-19 has had, it may be almost impossible to find anything positive at first. While you might know rationally there are still good things in this world, chances are that you’re just not primed for it right now. Instead, thanks to all the negative news, your brain may be trained to be on the alert for threats. This is why you may be feeding into the negative emotions right now.
It’s important to balance out your emotions by starting a gratitude practice. Find little things in your day that you enjoy, like the birds tweeting in the mornings, sunsets, or even finding new shows or movies to watch. Anything good you should remember to make sure you’re not spending all of your time focused on how much is going wrong. You may even want to make a list of all the things you can give thanks for that day.
Stay connected with others
Many now feel more alone and isolated than ever when working from home or taking Covid-19 precautions. As we have spent more time at home, it’s easy to drift away from loved ones with the lack of human interaction taking a toll on your well-being. When dealing with your mental health, maintaining regular human connection is now more important as ever.
Just because everyone is physically distant doesn’t mean we can’t be emotionally close to each other. Many working groups have created virtual forums where you can contribute by chatting with friends and family. Staff teams have made co-working spaces, virtual coffee groups, and online book clubs where you can chat in the virtual presence of others. It is important to remember some are all alone during these times so reach out and check up on to those who are isolated.
Don’t beat yourself up
One thing to remember is that you are not alone and your feelings do matter. It is important to be gentle to yourself when feeling isolated and vulnerable. So don’t beat yourself up if you sleep in a little or aren’t on your A-game. Many of us are still adjusting to this “ new normal” of living in a pandemic. It is hard to find motivation when staying home, so take it easy and take things one step at a time.