Happy Mental Health Month! Mental health has become a big talking point during this ongoing pandemic due to the unexpected changes to day-to-day life. Facing daily challenges can be stressful and overwhelming, which leads to strong emotions or lack of for both adults and children.
The pandemic affected mental health in three ways. The first, people experiencing anxiety around catching the virus, unknowingly carrying it or spreading the virus. The second, the social isolation leaving people lonely. The third, severe financial hardship.
Although we continue to face obstacles and challenges, there are healthy and positive ways to cope with the stress, anxiety and any negative emotions that overcome us from the pandemic. KPG Healthcare takes mental health seriously and we want to make sure there are proper resources to address these issues.
Here are five ways we can take care of our mental health now and in the future.
Take. Breaks. Whether that is a mental health day, 30-minute walk, 10-minute stretch, breathing exercises, exercise or taking a break from social media and the news – take the break.
We are constantly bombarded with information so readily at the palm of our hands that we can be on our devices for hours without notice. Sometimes it can be hard to pull yourself out of that rabbit hole but setting boundaries like smartphone app time limits can remind you to unplug from social media and focus on yourself.
These small but easy actions can uplift your mood, clear any haziness and while it may not be a permanent solution, it’s a good start in the right direction.
We mentioned taking breaks like going for walks or exercise, but going outside, in general, can boost your mood and decrease anxiety and stress.
Going outdoors and surrounding yourself with nature is a practiced art in Japan and it’s called forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. Forest bathing is proven to reduce stress and anxiety as well as fatigue and confusion. Going for walks or hikes with nature that surrounds you is a great way to improve your mental health and get some vitamin D.
If you work from home, try taking a call outdoors or setting up your computer near a window if you’re unable to get outside as easily. Taking your exercise routine outdoors or trying indoor activities outside is another option.
There is no doubt getting exercise can have tremendous benefits not only for your mental health but physical too.
Daily and routine exercise can control weight, combat health conditions or illnesses, improve moods, boost energy, promotes better sleep and increase confidence. With gyms, yoga studios and recreation centers slowly opening back up, that could be a great option to getting daily exercise. However, if you’re still concerned for COVID-19, there are other creative ways to get exercise during the pandemic.
If you have children at home, breaking out into a Zoom dance party with friends and family is one way to get everyone’s heart pumping. Tennis, golf, pickleball, bike rides and hikes are great options for outdoor exercise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states adults should be getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Sleep is essential to maintain a healthy body and mind.
There is a difference between the quality of sleep and the quantity of sleep. Quality of sleep measures how well you can sleep, whereas the quantity of sleep refers to how many hours of sleep you get. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can lead to serious health conditions including cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, weight gain and increase chances of illness like heart disease.
There are also ways to help improve your sleeping schedules by disconnecting technology, investing in a good sleep environment (dark rooms, pillows, sound machines, etc) and making lifestyle changes such as exercise or limiting alcohol and caffeine intake.
Finding joy in our lives can sometimes be overlooked with all that is going on today, but it holds more power than you realize.
Finding activities or seeing people we love who spark joy within us is the last way we can encourage positive mental health practices. Joy comes in all shapes, forms and sizes but promotes a healthier lifestyle by boosting your immune system and fighting stress. Joy can come in the form of friends and family, your neighbor’s dog, a cup of coffee from your favorite café, the smell of flowers, cooking and the list can go on.
We all experience joy differently so find what sparks joy within you and embrace it.
Here is a list of articles and resources for mental health during the pandemic:
- COVID-19 depression and anxiety: How to take care of your mental health – CNET
- Managing mental health during COVID-19 – American Medical Association
- 5 ways to manage your mental health during COVID-19 – Michigan Health
- Taking your ‘Mental Health’ temperature during COVID-19 – Yale Medicine
- Coping with stress – CDC
- Working remotely during COVID-19 – Center for Workplace Mental Health