MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: COPING DURING A PANDEMIC
Mental Health During The Pandemic The pandemic has taken us all into new territory and unchartered waters. We have had to completely change the way we live, work, and play. Just as we know the importance of maintaining physical health, we also need to ensure mental health is also prioritized. Millennials are the group most at risk of burnout during the pandemic as they cope with the increased pressure to adapt, perform, and succeed.
The advent of social media and the expectations it brings regarding having the perfect life, friends, family, and job means that many people feel isolated and inadequate. During the pandemic more people than ever used social media to reconnect and relax. However, although social media can be a great platform to share and seek support, it can also exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. Make sure you curate your social media so that it uplifts and supports you.
Statistics show that the number of people experiencing mental health issues during the pandemic has skyrocketed:
· 41% of adults are showing signs of depression and anxiety
· The second-leading cause of death amongst those aged 10-34 is suicide
· 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety disorders
Look For The Signs The following are signs of mental health deterioration: · Increasing fatigue · Restlessness · Feeling agitated · Anxiety · Being over-productive or not productive at all · Changes in eating habits and sex drive · Withdrawing from daily activities
Tips To Manage Mental Health If you feel any of the above, you should pause and reflect, and try discovering some coping strategies that can improve your mental health. Here are some tips to help you manage your mental health and well-being as you ride out the pandemic: · Feel your feelings: this essentially means you don’t have to rationalize or dismiss feelings of anxiety or stress. · Self-Care: although this has become a bit of a buzzword its core meaning is essential. Self-care is about therapeutic activities that can help us relax and care for our needs such as taking a warm bath, applying a face mask, having a nice meal, or taking a leisurely walk. · Connections: as we are spending more time at home. we need to ensure that we maintain contact with friends and family. Connecting with others online and in person can have a beneficial impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. · Routine: create a daily routine that is restorative enabling you to work, relax, and recharge. · Pace yourself: we are all in unfamiliar territory. You have to focus on your own well-being before you burn out. Work at a steady pace and take regular breaks. The same goes for managing life as the pandemic eases. Don’t feel you have to rush back into meeting people and going places. Take your time and listen to your body. · Exercise: moving our bodies can have a powerful impact on our mental health with the release of endorphins. Going for a walk has become one of the most popular coping strategies for people during the pandemic. · Find work-life balance: create a space for working that is separate from your living area. Be sure to have boundaries with working hours while taking regular breaks as you would do in an office. · Eat well: nutrition impacts our mood and health so be sure to eat well and eat regularly. · Advocate for yourself: be your own champion, reach out to people who can help you listen to how you feel. This will enable you to access the support you require.
Managing Uncertainty Remember, uncertainty and worries about change are normal. It’s how you cope with the uncertainty that dictates how you manage your mental health. There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way we view our lives and has realigned our habits, behaviors, and routines. However, we can learn to cope with uncertainty by: · Focusing on the things we can control · Being present – certainty is the opposite of uncertainty and even during a pandemic, there are so many certainties we can focus on · Accepting that change and uncertainty is part of life · Investing in yourself – you can’t pour from an empty cup! · Manage your emotions – do not suppress how you feel, instead acknowledge your feelings and find coping strategies such as listening to music, going for a walk, calling a friend, reading a book, meditating, or cooking. · Not believing all that you think. It’s easy to fall into worst-case-scenario thinking, but try and train yourself to think of best-case scenarios too. · Finding meaning in chaos – meaning and purpose are the foundations of hope, so when the world feels chaotic and overwhelming having a sense of purpose can be grounding.
Silver Linings of the Pandemic It might seem strange, but there have been some silver linings brought about by the pandemic. The main one is the increase in the quality of life for many. The onset of remote working has enabled many people to feel more autonomous and flexible, free from the stressful office environment and daily commute. It has also enabled many people to reassess what matters to them in life and to focus on health and well-being. Using the strategies above may assist you in building coping mechanisms that can help you see through the pandemic and beyond.