Keeping on top of your mental health remains one of the most pressing issues for all of us. During this time of great loss and confusion—as COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the country—carving out time to ensure stability is a necessary step to body and mind positivity and general well-being. It is also essential for each one of us, if our country is to heal as a whole.
In my work, I am often asked one simple question: “What can I do to feel better right now?” Right now, seems like a steep and demanding question. But often my clients are desperate for a quick fix. There are many daily activities that you can do to begin the process of healing and rejuvenation, especially in the face of traumatic experiences coming at us from all angles – political, economic and emotional tolls that includes racial inequality and racial division.
During the coronavirus, the United States has seen a major surge in depression, anxiety, and suicide. For instance, a Census Bureau study from last December indicated that more than 42 percent of respondents reported symptoms of depression or anxiety—which is an 11 percent increase a year-over.
Particular people have been shown to be vulnerable to mental health issues in the pandemic. This includes minorities, as well as younger people (specifically women).
“Studies and surveys conducted so far in the pandemic consistently show that young people, rather than older people, are most vulnerable to increased psychological distress, perhaps because their need for social interactions are stronger,” reporter Allison Abbott noted in Nature.com. “Data also suggest that young women are more vulnerable than young men, and people with young children, or a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder, are at particularly high risk for mental-health problems.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “coping with stress” is a major concern for Americans. Stress may lead to changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes, or even increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances.
The country and the people in the country must find a way to heal in a reasonable way, that does not include bifurcation and division. We must find a way to heal, while understanding that there are still opportunities for growth and introspection. Here are three ways to boost your mental health during these stressful times.
Whether it is walking around town, picking up dumbbells, or taking the dig for a stroll, getting your endorphins flowing is significant. A recent study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found just 15 minutes each day of running or an hour of walking reduces one’s risk of depression by 26 percent. Physical exercise is a prime anti-anxiety treatment, and it does not cost a thing. Take the time to feel better both internally and externally.
Find time to be alone and think. It may sound monotonous or like pseudo-science, but research has continually shown the mental health benefits of meditation and relaxation. This stress-reduction opportunity increases self-awareness, reduces negative emotions, and increases patience and tolerance. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and practice on breathing slow and softly.
Talk To Someone
Life is difficult and complicated. All too often, patients’ bottle-up and decide to not let their emotions out. They become trapped and often feel like they are a prisoner of their emotions. It’s okay to feel depressed and talking to someone else often makes things easier and better able to understand. Being able to express your emotions to another person is an opportunity to gain perspective and, more importantly, to receive assistance from others who care about you and your situation. Mental health professionals are often better able to help than friends and family, and their job is help you put together the pieces of your life.
There are many ways to improve your mental-health practices, and these are just a few ways to begin the process of trauma-healing and self-reflection. Ultimately, the path to happiness is continuous. It goes up and down and fluctuates. Spending time to work on yourself, no matter what external events are going on, is essential to your well-being. I hope that these three activities can help you with whatever you are going through. It is important to remember that growth is often not linear. We make progress and then often go backwards, only to go forwards again. These past few years have taken a toll on the country and on our mental health. Let’s try to regain our footing by practicing self-care.