Five Ways We Can Protect Our Mental Wellbeing During the Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic is not only affecting physical health, it’s also affecting thousands of people’s mental health.

According to a recent study, the number of people who reported having depression or having symptoms of depression has tripled. The number of people experiencing symptoms of anxiety has also increased drastically over the pandemic.

People’s mental wellbeing has been affected negatively, especially since access to support such as medication and therapy also became difficult due to social distancing protocols and lockdowns.

So how can we protect our mental wellbeing during the pandemic?

Be informed about COVID-19

One of the major causes of anxiety during these times is fake news and misinformation. Some people purposely spread fake news to cause panic and fear. The more misinformed you are the more anxious you’ll be.

Avoid panic and worries by being well-informed and getting information from trusted sources only. That means scientific-based information from people with the right credentials. So, what is there to know about COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a very contagious respiratory disease. Meaning it can spread from person to person. How? Through respiratory droplets that can be transferred when we talk, cough, sneeze, or breathe in close contact with another person. This is why we are required to wear face masks that cover our mouth and nose and practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people.

These respiratory droplets can also stick on surfaces, which is why we should always sanitize and wash our hands after touching any public surface. The virus can be killed with hand soap if you wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds.

COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include fever, dry cough, and loss of taste and/or smell. More severe symptoms include difficulty in breathing, chest pain, diarrhea, nausea, confusion, and bluish lips and face.

Those with mild symptoms may recover safely at home and must isolate to stop the spread of the virus. Those with more severe symptoms will have to stay in the hospital. There are plenty of asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 as well. Meaning some are infected by the virus but show no symptoms. Asymptomatic people can still spread the virus.

As long as you wear your face mask in public, social distance, sanitize, and wash your hands regularly you can stay safe from the virus.

Learn when to stop scrolling through social media

Social media can be draining. Our newsfeed is constantly bombarded by news of the virus and other crazy things happening around us. This can trigger plenty of distressing emotions. Going on a social media purge every now and then can be beneficial for our mental health.

man using a phone

Set a time and day when you are completely media-free. Spend that day doing what you enjoy. May it be a hobby, binge-watching a new series on Netflix, or playing video games. Do whatever you can to distract yourself from opening social media or any news outlets.

Stay physically healthy to be mentally healthy

Your physical health affects your mental health, and vice versa. There may be days when your mind makes it extremely challenging to do anything, especially exercise. Try to eat nutritious food if you can’t find the energy to exercise. And when you do feel like exercising please take advantage of it.

Exercise does wonders for both our mental and physical health. It’s known to increase our levels of serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” chemical, and endorphins, the chemicals that reduce stress. At a time like this, we need as much serotonin and endorphins as we can get.

Find time to rest and connect with others

At first, you might feel that it’s tiring to communicate with other people. You might not feel the energy to interact. But try to find time to connect with family and friends even through a video call. Humans are naturally social people. Research has shown that isolation leads to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Another important thing is to find time to rest. Really rest. Free your mind of things that give you anxiety and focus on your inner wellbeing. Spend a few minutes everyday doing meditation, or simply spending a quiet time with yourself.

Know That There’s Help Available

The last year has been difficult economically. If you suddenly find yourself unemployed or underemployed, know that there are government programs and aids available.

For example, if you have been diagnosed with mental illness and needs therapy and medication you can apply for disability benefits. You can get financial help so as not to disrupt your medical needs. And during this time, taking care of our mental health is at its most crucial.

Remember that your mental wellness is just as important as your physical health. If you are in an emergency remember to call 911. You can also call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889.

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