Living in Ventura County provides access to the sun’s gift of vitamin D, picturesque hiking through rolling hills, magnificent oceanic wildlife views, and an array of charming boutiques, quaint antique stores, and pleasant coffee shops. Unfortunately, their use has been diminished as Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopen plan is still a few days away. The pandemic can place enormous strain on your mental health, which is why we’re going to explore how to recognize it and what you can do about it.
Symptoms of Stress During The Pandemic
The Centers for Disease Control recognize that we are in a stressful time and name several challenges that we face in dealing with the pandemic. For instance, fear is a natural feeling especially when you feel in danger of things unknown, but it can become unhealthy when it takes over your life. Isolation occurs when you withdraw from safe and healthy activities or loved ones. And yet another indicator of an imbalance in mental health can be when you experience physical symptoms, such as gastrointestinal issues, headaches, lethargy, and generalized pain without a connection to any actual physical illness. These things may be indicators of mental health issues.
Helpful Ways To Combat Stress and Anxiety
Do you wish 2020 could have a do-over? We do, too. At times, things seem only to decline instead of getting better. It is natural to feel down when bad things happen. But if you get stuck there and can’t get out, it is both necessary and okay to get support. This is a trying time even for those with the most optimal mental health and we want you to be safe, healthy, and happy. So here are four things you can do to maintain mental and emotional health both now and in the days to come.
Take breaks, turn off the news, and have direct contact with your support system of friends, family, and loved ones where you can and are able. Follow the social distancing guidelines where they apply but be in the presence of another. You are not meant to do life alone. If in-person contact isn’t an option, do something virtual. But do something.
2. Routine (Keep Moving)
Try to practice healthy habits and routines even when they aren’t completely necessary. If you are working from home, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Make your bed, shower, and get dressed as if you are going into the office or out for the day. Routine is especially important for children so make time to create a family schedule with them providing input and keep each other accountable as a family. You can even make it a fun family exercise!
3. Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are not only vital to physical health, but we also know they are related to mental health, too. So eat healthy meals, drink lots of water, and practice some sort of physical activity every day. Golf, tennis, pickleball, cycling, and hiking are all considered essential activities. If you can’t get out, you can always exercise or do activities, such as gardening, at home.
4. Spiritual Practices
Research shows that spirituality and spiritual practices significantly improve mental health. Mindfulness and awareness help you get out of your intrusive thoughts and practice awareness and simply being present in the moment. The ability to do this stops the limbic system from taking over and provides a sense of calm and balance. There are many different types of practices so invest the time to discover what works best for you. The results can truly be life-changing.
Better Days Await
We will get through this time. Life includes moments of intense stress and, hopefully, immense pleasure. Recognizing how stress manifests in your life and using the tools in your self-care toolkit to both prevent and address mental health will help you to stay positive, improve your mental, emotional, and physical health, and get you through the rough waves until the storm passes and the sun shines again.
Note: If you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness, depression, or anxiety, or if you are having thoughts of suicide, call for help. You are not alone.