If you have mental health challenges like myself or are feeling intense emotions from the recent Coronavirus events, here are some ways that have helped me cope personally. Retaining a positive mindset is important for keeping a level and rational mindset as well as nurturing our mental health.
1. Take social media breaks. You don’t need to delete your Facebook (unless you want to) but I recommend taking at least an hour away to give yourself a break from all the news, the socializing, etc. You’re not obligated to be perfect online or post anything. Not reading the news is okay if it’s too overwhelming. Obviously keep informed on how you can keep yourself safe but taking a break will not hinder your ability to do this. We all require some reset time. The internet is basically a sensory overload nightmare right now. Give yourself a break.
2. Practice gratitude. This is a real challenge right now as our normal way of life is altered. For some of us, the changes are dramatic and there are reminders of this everywhere. But amidst the chaos, it’s vital to take a moment to realize there is always something to be grateful for. Even if it’s extremely simple. Example from my list this morning; I drank a glass of water with breakfast to keep hydrated. Gratitude doesn’t have to be complex. I try to list at least 3 things I am grateful for.
3. Validate your feelings. This is so so important and while it may seem contradictory to expressing gratitude, acknowledging your emotions actually better enables you to find things you’re grateful for. When your thoughts are swamped by trying to keep emotions in check or just from feeling in general, noticing positives is exceptionally hard. Your feelings are valid. Express them. You can do this via a journal, a trusted loved one, a therapist, or whatever means helps you. If you can’t see your therapist in person, inquire about phone sessions or ask if you may email them. My counselor and I exchange emails to ensure my treatment plan is going well or to discuss obstacles. If you’re feeling an emotion, it deserves your attention, no matter how silly it may seem. If it hurts, it hurts. It does not matter “who has it worse.” As I’ve mentioned before, pain is not a competition. Someone who drowns in two inches of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in six feet. Take care of yourself.
4. Find fun activities you can do indoors. Try a new hobby. This is an opportunity to get creative. Yesterday, I built my daughter a box fort. You can create art with nearly anything, even your phone. There are coloring apps. You can write thoughts on notepads on your phone. It doesn’t have to be a stereotypical artistic outlet either. You could try video games, make a game of cleaning, arm wrestle your cat (just kidding,) watch a new movie or show, do a puzzle, start a workout routine that you can do from your living room, build a blanket or box fort, etc. Whatever suits your interests and let’s you have FUN. Fun is FUNdamental for a healthy brain. You can be concerned about what’s going on and still find your joy too.
5. Be proactive in any way you can, both for yourself and for others. Take your vitamins, drink your water, keep your self sane. Look into how you can help your community as well, if you’re able. Right now this mostly entails social distancing. You can also not hoard all the freaking toilet paper the shelves have to offer. You could donate items you don’t need to those who might need them. Practice good hygiene. Stay safe as best as you can!
As always, thanks for reading!