There’s no denying that things have been rough since March when the pandemic took over our world, thoughts, daily activities, and most importantly, our mental health.
I know for me, some days during the pandemic are better than others. On good days I find myself able to eat healthy (even if I wash down a salad with an entire Portillo’s large cake shake), go for a walk to enjoy the crisp Fall weather, or get sucked into a new favorite show, like I am now with Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. On less than stellar days, I find myself refreshing browsers to see the latest going on in the world, which, let’s be honest, is a worse idea than washing down an entire Portillo’s large cake shake after eating a salad.
As someone who has managed anxiety and depression for most of my life, it’s always a work-in-progress to figure out what calms your thoughts and brings you back to center. Everyone’s journey during this pandemic is unique and different. We’re all trying to navigate working from home, setting personal and professional safety boundaries, trying to help kids succeed in virtual learning, cooking from home (with the exception of those dang Portillo’s cake shakes!), and maintaining relationships.
I wanted to share some self-care tips that have been proven to lessen the anxiety we feel during a time when nothing seems certain. Hopefully you can try a couple of these and see if they help improve your mental health in any way.
Taking Care of Your Body
- Make sure you’re staying hydrated and eating your fruits and veggies. Try to cook a new meal you’ve been meaning to test out
- Try and get outside at least once a day to enjoy the fresh air and get your body moving
- Prioritize sleep!
- Stay limber and loose by lightly stretching or trying yoga after hours of sitting at your computer
- Wear your mask properly when you’re out in public and cannot maintain social distancing guidelines
- Careful of your vices! I know I joke about the Portillo’s cake shake (because it’s delicious), but avoid risky behaviors and habits like abusing alcohol, gambling, or ignoring health recommendations
Taking Care of Your Mind
- Focus on what’s in your control
- Limit social media and news apps or coverage. When you do check up on the news, make sure the sources are reliable and credible
- Read a favorite book or jam out to your favorite song
- Look for ways to donate your time or talents to your community
- Maintain a routine at home
- Stay connected with friends, neighbors, and loved ones with technology
- Practice gratitude for the things in your life
- Start journaling
- Declutter your home office desk or a closet you’ve neglected
- Get up early to watch the sunrise
- Use an app to meditate for 5 minutes
It’s okay not to be okay during this time.
If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help you feel like yourself again. Be gentle with your well-being and thoughts, and know that you are not alone.
Here are some signs that you may need to reach out for professional help during this time.
- Trouble focusing on daily tasks or unable to enjoy your favorite tasks
- Feelings that persist and feel unmanageable or out of control
- Thoughts of hurting yourself
- Feeling hopeless and/or helpless
The CDC has the following resources available to you in times of crisis:
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Lifeline Crisis Chat
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Child Abuse Hotline
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- The Eldercare Locator
- Veteran’s Crisis Line
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline
- Treatment Services Locator Website
- Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers
Our librarians have also compiled some stress relief and management, grief, and mental health reading guides here.
Mental health and coping during COVID-19. (2020). CDC.
Self-care tips during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2020). Mayo Clinic.