Surviving the Virus
A look at managing your mental wellbeing throughout this situation.
The coronavirus pandemic has simply changed the way we go about our lives. It’s not just the change in the way we go about doing our work, but the self-isolation and social distancing imposed to curb the spread of pandemic has negatively affected the psychology of people.
On one hand is the growing feeling of loneliness due to quarantine while on other hand is the increase in stress and anxiety among people who have lost their jobs or business incomes due to the negative impact the pandemic has had upon the economy. These factors have given rise to steady increasing cases of depression and other mental health disorders.
Managing depression or any mental illness on its own is not an easy part, and if the condition is severe, definitely professional help with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist should be sought. However, there are certain self-help techniques which can help manage and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Here are some of the self-help strategies to cope with mental illness
Regular exercise helps to release endorphins, also called as happy hormones, in the body. Both cardio or aerobic exercises and weight exercises have been proven to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. One can divide the cardio exercise like jogging and cycling with resistance and weight training on certain days of week to get balance in exercise regimen.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques:
Meditation techniques like mindfulness reduce the stress in the body by bringing down cortisol levels, a stress hormone. It helps to calm the mind which enables a person to view the problems from a balanced perspective. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can also help a person to calm down their mind and body. Practicing these techniques regularly can help one to cope with in times of extreme stress and panic as well.
Focus on Diet:
Taking care of what you eat can impact mental health. Eat proper nutritious food. Check for any deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. It has been acknowledged that deficiency of vitamins and minerals like D3, B12, Magnesium can have adverse effects on mental health. Take supplements for deficiencies after consultation with your doctor or nutritionist. A nutritionist can also help you to make a customized diet plan depending on your age, body weight and health factors.
Keep away from Alcohol and other drugs:
This one goes without saying. Keep the intake of alcohol at bare minimum. Stay away from drugs like marijuana and other hard drugs. Some people take drugs to feel inner peace or get high after feeling low. However, these drugs have shown to have a negative impact on mental health in the long term and are highly addictive as well. Avoid cigarettes and tobacco use as well.
Even if you can’t go and hang out like the good old days right now due to social distancing, its important to stay connected with your friends and relatives. There are various options like video calling, group calling, chat applications that you can make use of for this purpose. Connecting with people and being socially active helps in reducing feelings of loneliness. You can also share your problems or difficulties with your close friends. Loved ones, relatives, friends can act as a very good social support group that you can fall back on in times of distress.
Seek out new activities:
If you can’t go outdoors on trips or to enjoy your regular hobbies like outdoor sports, there is plenty you can do while you are confined to your homes. Try learning new things such as learning a new language, painting, learning a new musical instrument. There are plenty of online classes or free source material on websites like YouTube, Udemy, Upskill and more. Learning new activities will divert the attention or focus from daily worrying thoughts and give a sense of motivation and achievement as well.
It is important to accept your mental problems as a part of life. After all, problems can only be tackled when they are accepted. Acceptance will stop any ignorant attitude towards your lingering mental health problems allowing you to take control and focus on recovery. Acceptance creates awareness about the things that are in your control and things that aren’t. It gives you strength to recover and fight mental illness persistently.
Regularly following the above-mentioned techniques will help you to feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. It may help you to completely recover on your own or act as an adjunct to your therapy or treatment. These simple but effective self help tips can go a long way in helping you to maintain your mental health.