It is no breaking news that COVID-19 is disrupting the economy, the health care system, schools and so much more, but there is an invisible crisis that is flying under the secondary radar: Millions of people around the world are experiencing not only financial stress but increased isolation, depression, anxiety and mental health issues. In fact, there has been a surge in messages to crisis centers due to the pandemic, as noted in a blog post by Jenna Davis on gofundme.
Mental health professionals are raising concerns that this crisis will have lasting effects on people longer than the virus itself. Fortunately, there are things you can do to safeguard your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus.
Jenna’s post takes notes from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that the first important steps in protecting your mental health are getting adequate sleep, eating well and exercising daily. So, beyond these, here are 5 things that you can do, starting today, to guard your mental health during and post quarantine.
1. Keep your routine but don’t.
Yes, I know this is a strange sword. Continue to do your regular routine, such as exercise in the morning before breakfast, shower and get dressed up...we know the quarantine is changing some fashion motivation... but really dress like you mean it. The don’t part is the most obvious, don’t fall into the routine of couch potato or 5 pm somewhere happy hour. There is also this don’t; don’t brush your teeth with the same hand all the time, or standing on both legs, or even in the same bathroom, switch your routine up and throw your mind in a lil loop. Try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or stand on one leg. How about go brush in the kid's bathroom! This is called Neurobics, a term coined by a renowned neuroscientist from Duke University who co-authored the book “ Keep your brain alive”. By switching up things that you normally do, you create new mental pathways and keep your mind fit and flexible. You can find more about this at www.m1nd6ym.com/neurobics
If you have never done this, now is truly a great time. There are a gazillion apps these days that can assist with this, such as Headspace, Calm, The Mindfulness App, Stop, breath &think… to name a few. Doing meditation sends your body into a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. Meditation will help you achieve awareness, identify tension in the body, understand your thinking patterns and learn how to deal with difficult emotions. This process will in turn enhance your physical and emotional well-being, and as we know right now, many people are dealing with a lot of heavy thoughts and stresses from all directions. Now more than ever is a good time to find your inner peace.
3. Stay social.
This isolation is a good reminder of how much humans need each other, so it is extremely important to stay connected to others and stay social. Thank goodness for the internet you can experience being with others without being physically there. We get it, it's not the same as actually seeing people in person but we can assure you the virtual connections are a great and simple way to keep your social connections while social distancing. So go on chat via text, see your friends on Facebook, join virtual classes, do mind challenges or game nights such as the ones on M1ND 6YM’s experiences (www.m1nd6ym.com/experiences).
4. Don’t overdo on social media and the News.
I know its tempting and somewhat addictive to keep watching the news but news are a repetitive source of grim information. Your mind will get constantly bombarded with depressing information, and that is no good way to keep your mind focused on the positive. So, it’s good to stay informed but limit your exposure and make sure the exposure you do get is coming from a source that you can rely on, such as CDC.
Social media is also a double edge sword, great for finding and sharing news information but it’s also the best place for spreading rumors and misinformation. So try limiting this too.
5. Last but not least, be nice to yourself.
Not being able to maintain your regular responsibilities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic is okay. You are not alone for having feelings of loss, grief and anxiety. Not being able to see or plan your future is enormously difficult and anxiety-inducing. But you must remain nice to yourself. Observe all the things you have been through and made it, look at every day as a single day and recognize all the positives and blessings you have had thus far. Now is not the time to give up! Do not try to keep up with everyone else, or set expectations that are actually driven by others expectations, just be you and do only what you can do and be happy with just that.
If all fails and you just feel the need to talk to someone about your mental health, it is never a shame to reach out to professionals. Here are a few apps that you can also use for affordable online therapy options- Talkspace, BetterHelp and BlahTherapy.
Coping with COVID-19 is not simple or easy, in fact, it’s downright challenging in so many ways. At M1ND 6YM we are trying to provide a venue for people who want to take control of their mental health but doing so in a fun, social, entertaining and engaging way. We offer mind challenging games, courses on how to keep your mind fit, and experiences of things you might have never done before, such as learning a new language or a new dance. Visit www.m1nd6ym.com to find out more about what we do to help people be proactive about mind fitness!