The year 2020 has been an unprecedented time for our generation. We have been faced with a pandemic, our lives have been severely disrupted and some of us have suffered significant personal, financial and psychological losses. At the same time, accessing any network of emotional support we had before the pandemic, such as our family and friends, is not as easy as it used to be. Man, as a social being, needs human contact and touch, the thought of which has reached the point of causing stress to many. Nothing is like before…
However, it is good to remember that, our generation may not have experienced something like that again but humanity has coped with pandemics, wars, natural and economic disasters many times throughout history. People still live on Earth and life goes on. This too shall pass as my favorite story teaches us.
Until all this is over and we “return to the new normal”, we have to make an effort so that our psychological state remains as unaffected as possible. As I have said many times, positive thinking alone is not enough. Thought can lead us on strange paths no matter how strong we think we are. The solution to every problem is taking action as I point out in my blog Put an end to worry now.
LET’S TAKE ACTION NOW!
Here are 5 things we can do to boost our mental health during difficult times:
1. We adopt a daily routine that includes self-care
When we are experiencing a period of increased stress, we often thrown off our game. We might even have more time than before but the day may go by without us actually doing anything or being creative. We can get caught up in our thoughts and live in our heads. Nevertheless, thinking about how things should be and wondering why this is happening to us does not help at all. Thinking without action breeds more stress and stress may lead to either chaos or inaction.
We have to accept the reality and adjust our actions accordingly. Creating a daily routine that meets our basic needs is a good first step. Three basic human needs are sleep, food and physical activity.
Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and sleep for 7-8 hours a day. Avoid going to bed and waking up too late to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Despite the “comfort” that some of us feel when we eat fatty, sweet or unhealthy foods, let us try to resist the temptation and maintain a balanced diet with wholesome food remembering to drink lots of water.
For some of us, physical activity is already a part of our lives. We are on the move, we walk, we take the stairs or we do sports or exercise. Whether physical activity is part of our lives or not, we should try to maintain it or incorporate it in our lives, especially now that we live in these conditions. Physical activity helps our brain secrete hormones that are necessary for a good mood which we need even more in difficult times.
2. Let’s make sure we keep in touch with oour friends and family
Nowadays, due to exceptional circumstances, meeting people in person may be “forbidden” or considered “dangerous”, but most people cannot live without human contact. It is difficult to feel “normal” if one of our most basic needs – social connection – remains unfulfilled.
That’s why we have to redefine what we consider human contact for a while.
For some of us who, for whatever reason, live far away from our loved ones, human contact happens over the phone or during a video call. It is certainly not the same as being in the same place with someone, being able to touch, hug and kiss them but at least it is a form of contact! Don’t let these times drive you away from the people you love just because you cannot visit with them. Find other ways to keep in touch!
3. Be creative
Even if before the pandemic we did not do something that we perceived as creative, it is certain that we participated in some activities even if it was going for a walk or having coffee or tea with a friend. Now that this is no longer possible, we need to find new ways to fill our day with activities that please us. What is certain is that with all these prohibitions, we have more time in our hands.
The internet is a source of many interesting programs, trainings, seminars, educational videos, talks, recipes, arts and crafts etc (many of them for free) which we can take advantage of to learn something new or to delve into something we already know.
Let’s make the most of these very unusual circumstances and do things we couldn’t or never knew we wanted to learn or know.
4. Maintain a pleasant atmosphere in your home
Although we cannot control what is happening in the world, we can control the atmosphere of our home and shape it appropriately to promote optimism and mental health.
Every morning, if possible, we should open the shutters and and pull the curtains to let fresh air and sunlight enter our life and lift our mood.
Keeping our home clean and tidy helps us maintain our peace of mind and stimulates a sense of security as we can find some kind of order in the chaos that we have been experiencing.
We could also decorate our home to make our prolonged stay in it more pleasant either with things we already have, using decorating ideas we find online or just by changing the position of furniture or trinkets for a feeling of renewal.
In short, let us try to maintain or create a pleasant atmosphere in the space where we spend most of our time, especially now that many of us work from home.
5. If you feel overwhelmed with the situation, seek help!
Many of us have built a sense of security on “normalcy” and when things change radically, we feel stress, extreme fear or anxiety.
If you feel that negative emotions, such as anxiety and despair overwhelm you, if even the simplest task seems very difficult and you feel petrified, seek the help of a specialist.
Psychotherapy or life coaching are definitely very good solutions, however, some of us cannot afford individual sessions. Fortunately, there are public centers that offer psychological support for free and in many countries there is a hotline for people who cannot deal with the psychological effects of the pandemic.
If you feel like you cannot cope with the new situation, seek help immediately!
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