Mental Health During a Pandemic
Trouble sleeping, feeling anxious, deep sadness, and loneliness, are just a few of the problems I hear people complaining about more regularly now than before the pandemic. Coping mechanisms, for this magnitude of stress, isn’t a topic that has been discussed much before. The need for it may be greater now than we all think. This deadly virus has been like a tsunami in people’s lives, taking with it all that is in its path. Divorce rates are soaring, domestic violence has taken a turn for the worse, and child abuse has trended upward. For those who haven’t been hit dead-on by the virus, devastation still surrounds us all and is proving to be detrimental to our mental health.
By now, most people have been introduced, one way or another, to the effects of the virus and the mental toll that it can take. Knowing someone who has died, became ill, was hospitalized, or exposed is more common than it was even 4 months ago and is still growing daily. With more than 160k people dead, and almost 5 million cases nationwide, it’s having an impact on most households. So what is your part in all of this and how do you save your mental drain?
In many ways, people are going to have to take the same steps that are advised for some mental disorders, especially depression and anxiety. Although more severe cases of either can require professional help through a physician or counseling, there are many tried and true methods that can help with the general malaise and anxiety that is running rampant. Exercising, meditating, gardening, baking, and having faith in a higher power are several of the steps you can take to ward off anxiety and depression.
Exercising has long been touted as a cure-all for many physical and mental health conditions and ranks high among things that are recommended by many physicians to help. Exercising stimulates the production of endorphins, lowers blood pressure, helps elevate moods, and fights off depression, to name a few. According to Healthline Magazine, “Exercise can make you feel happier. It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.”
Healthline also emphasizes that the intensity of your workout doesn’t seem to matter to achieve these mental health benefits. The production of endorphins alone is enough to lift your mood and reduce the perception of pain. Take a walk, go swimming, or even do some housework, all will give you benefits.
Meditating is often easily brushed off as a new wave fad or part of a metaphysical trend that will eventually fade away. Even though meditation has been widely used since ancient times, it is still misunderstood. Meditation has been written up in many medical journals as being able to reset the brain and help with anxiety and depression. It’s even gone up against mainstream medicines that are commonly prescribed to help with both anxiety and depression. According to a study done at John Hopkins last year, meditation can have the same efficacy as low dose medications for these conditions. Meditation is about mind control and mindfulness. Both go hand in hand and lead to a more rested mind. Being able to rest your mind will be followed with more peace and less stress. The effects of meditating for 8 weeks is said to be of value even 20 years later, according to Forbes. To start meditating, find a beginner program that can give you the steps to take for a more peaceful existence. Grow from there!
Gardening and baking are both generic examples of activities that give you a finished product to be proud of. It doesn’t matter what you make, design, or do, it is finishing the project that is most important. It has a starting and an ending point. There can be great satisfaction in getting creative and seeing your finished product. Even something as simple as coloring in a child’s coloring book can give you a great break from the tedious thoughts that may be plaguing you at this time. Bake a cake and give it away. Plant beautiful flowers in pots and place them throughout your house. Whatever you do, make it a project. Dedicate some time and effort into its beauty and finish it with pride. Lifting your spirits is the goal and small hobbies have the ability to do that. Start your project!
One of the most bothersome problems of today is the amount of worrying that people are doing. I’m not saying it isn’t justified, I’m saying it won’t help you at all and can be damaging to your overall mental health. Many people will tell you about their faith in God, or the universe, or some other higher power and yet are still consumed with worry and fear. If ever there is a time to grow your faith, now is it. Hand those fears over. Know that what you are focused on is what will come to you. Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. Easy to say, but how do you change that mindset? Give it away. Go to your higher power and show the faith and trust that you have been practicing all of these years and make good use of it. Start to believe. Believe that you are right where you’re supposed to be. Have faith that everything is going to be ok and even if things aren’t going the way you want them to, it’s out of your hands. Allow things to unfold.
Change your mindset to a positive one. Pray for strength to get through rough days. Ask for hope and faith to become the nourishment your soul is craving. Once worrying is taken away from our minds, we are more able to live in the moment. Life is happening now and only now. Worrying about what may happen will become all-consuming in a relatively short period of time. Your positivity will become harder to maintain. Don’t let gloom and doom become your new mantra. Give your troubles away, have faith they are in good hands.
There are many strategies that we can adapt to survive unusually stressful times, but each person will have to decide what works best for them. If you are looking for ways to reduce your stress, depression, and anxiety, try some of the methods I have mentioned above. Exercising, meditation, projects, and turning to your higher power are just a few that work well for me. Be creative, take yourself out of the dark and into some light. There isn’t anyone that can be on guard constantly without suffering emotional and physical damage. Let your next project be about you. Take a step towards reducing your worries and regaining some control in your life. With practice, this will all become second nature to you. I look forward to your positive outcomes!