One thing is certain – the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both our physical and mental health. The constant flow of information, fear of the unknown, social distancing, isolation, telecommuting, and imposed restrictions have led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
However, there are certain strategies that can help you learn how to deal with overwhelming stress during these challenging times. Here are five techniques that will allow you to give your mental health a break.
1. Make physical exercise your priority
Introducing a fitness routine into your daily activities is crucial not only for your physical health but also for relieving the mental pressure you are exposed to. Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins, which boost your mood and cause you to feel excited. Also, regular exercise decreases the level of a stress hormone called cortisol and takes your mind from stressful situations.
The best thing is that any type of physical activity will reduce your stress levels, no matter whether you prefer aerobic or anaerobic exercise. Set aside 15 minutes each day for your favorite activity and you’ll soon notice the benefits. After all, you know what the old Latin phrase says – mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body).
2. Limit news and social media intake
It’s only natural that you want to keep up with the latest COVID-19 news, but surrounding yourself with negative and often unverified information will inevitably cause you to feel emotionally and mentally exhausted. Instead of frequently checking social media and other news outlets and risking information overload, try scheduling a media break and practice a healthy, moderate approach to news.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, it’s time to disconnect, turn off news notifications, and let your mind relax for a while. Moreover, try to focus more on positive news and uplifting stories, as they are likely to improve your mood and reduce your risk of getting sick from stress.
3. Reach out to your loved ones
Facing acute or situational stress is difficult on its own, but feeling detached from your friends and family makes things even more complicated. Having a strong support system and taking time to connect and maintain close relationships with others is essential for our mental well-being. Sharing your thoughts, fears, and emotions with the people you love leads to lowering cortisol levels which, in turn, reduces stress.
Although social distancing makes socializing seem impossible, it’s not really like that. Luckily for us, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch, including social media, social apps, Skype, Zoom, or a simple phone call.
4. Connect with nature
Along with physical activity, spending time outside in the fresh air can do wonders when it comes to coping with stress. Nature has many benefits for our mental and physical well-being, as it helps us relieve stress, restore our mental energy, boost focus and concentration, as well as prevent various diseases.
A quick 20-minute walk is more than enough – just make sure you focus on the beauty that surrounds you. Also, consider decorating your home with greenery, as the color green is known to make us feel more relaxed.
5. Seek professional help
There are times when stress becomes so severe that it causes all kinds of mental and physical problems which then lead to a disruption in our daily routine. If your stress reached the level you can no longer cope with on your own and you feel the urge to speak with someone, don’t hesitate to schedule a talk with a professional.
Professional support and stress counseling will give you the opportunity to share your fears and emotions with a mental health professional who is trained to help you. In case you are uncomfortable with a face-to-face meeting, you can always opt for a telehealth appointment.
To sum up
COVID stress syndrome that develops as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic affects more and more individuals each day. That’s why finding the most effective stress-combating strategy that works for you is crucial if you wish to keep your mental health in check and avoid the detrimental physical, mental, and social effects of stress. Walk, talk, laugh, keep in touch with friends, and find professional support if needed.
Just remember – this too shall pass.