Tend to Your Mental Health Amid Covid-19
The pandemic is causing extreme stress that can lead to mental health problems and a compromised immune system, hence you must take steps to find sources of joy.
Data shows that the percentage of American adults who reported having symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder rose to 41.1% in January 2021 from 11% in January to June 2019.
The American Psychological Association (APA) cites a February 2021 survey showing that 42% of respondents gained an average of 29 pounds of unwanted weight during the pandemic. The APA considers weight change as a frequent sign of difficulty in dealing with mental health problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight increases a person’s risk of developing serious illness from Covid-19.
If you are doing everything you can to protect yourself against the coronavirus, you must not ignore your stress levels. Unmanaged stress leads to mental health problems and makes you more vulnerable to severe sickness if infected with Covid-19.
Stress avoidance must be high on your list of priorities during the pandemic. While this is ironic since it is the pandemic that is causing stress, there are ways that you can manage this.
Find Your Little Joys
Set aside a part of each day to do only whatever it is that brings you joy. This can be an hour or more, depending on your situation.
If you are a crafter, you can do scrapbooking. You can prepare in advance for occasions by making cards, gift boxes, gift bags, or gift tags. You can order a scrapbook subscription box online and receive a monthly box of goodies for your projects. There are groups for crafters on social media sites that you can join for camaraderie and shared ideas.
You can do an art journal using watercolor, acrylic paint, multimedia, or collage. You can incorporate a writing journal in your art journal. Writing is also a powerful tool to express all your bottled-up emotions.
You can paint on canvas using acrylic or oil paint. It does not have to be a realistic painting. You can do abstract expressionism, venting your feelings in colors and strokes.
If you love sewing, you can make masks for yourself and your loved ones. You can refresh the look of your home by making a new set of coordinated curtains and throw pillows or bed linen.
If you love cooking or baking, you can try out new recipes from online sites. You can even experiment and create your own recipes.
You do not have to make something during your special time. If you love music, you can chill and listen to your favorite genres.
If you love books, this is the time to immerse yourself in their pages.
It does not matter what you do, but make sure you are enjoying yourself totally and distracting yourself from thoughts that bring on stress.
Work Stress Out of Your System
Another essential part of your arsenal against Covid-19 is daily exercise. Physical activity protects you from the virus as it strengthens your immune system by helping your body detect and fight disease-causing pathogens. It also slows down the rate of deterioration of your immune system even as you age.
Regular exercise also combats stress directly by lowering your levels of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. At the same time, it increases your levels of endorphins, the good mood hormones. In other words, you must trust that regular exercise will make you feel good even if you are reluctant to start at first.
For a start, follow the American Heart Association’s minimum recommendationof at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise distributed throughout the week and two days of muscle strength training each week.
You can make aerobic exercise fun by following various aerobic routines available online. There are aerobic dance routines based on different music genres and years, from the oldies to current dance hits. You can exercise with Latin dance steps or belly dancing or hip hop.
Strength training is possible even without special equipment. You can strengthen your muscles using your own body through planks, pushups, squats, lunges, and other bodyweight exercises. You can learn how to do all these properly online.
Reset and Restart
You cannot change the fact that you are amid a pandemic, but you can change how you look at the scenario. A dose of optimism can do much to change your mindset.
Yes, new variants of the virus are appearing, but vaccines are being rolled out, and drug companies are already updating the vaccines to respond to the new coronavirus variants.
Your job is to take care of yourself in the meantime, both physically and mentally. Reset your focus and restart by appreciating even the smallest day-to-day pleasures and accomplishments. Always tell yourself that it feels good to be alive.