Mental Health Check-in: Find Moments of Gratitude during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mindful Habits to Help Protect Your Mental Health
Studies around the world are showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a mental health crisis. Prolonged isolation is placing a strain on all of us, leading to increases in anxiety, depression, and stress.
Today, we’re taking a moment to check in on our mental health and offer some simple habits that can help you to break through the pandemic fog.
1. Develop a Bedtime Routine
Losing a normal routine is one of the most destabilizing aspects of the pandemic. Add some structure back into your days by creating a regular schedule. One of the simplest ways to do this is to create a relaxing bedtime routine. This can be particularly helpful if you are having trouble sleeping.
Set aside half an hour to an hour before bed. Choose a few soothing activities: take a warm bath, light a candle, make a cup of herbal tea, put on your favorite moisturizer, read a book, or journal. Put your phone aside so you can be present in these relaxing moments. You’ll enjoy some downtime before bed, and having this routine will start signaling to your body that it’s time for sleep. This might just be a new habit you’ll want to continue once the pandemic is over.
2. Limit Your Media Exposure
If you easily fall into doomscrolling through Twitter, you know how negative media can become a vicious cycle. You keep reading, even as you feel your anxiety rising. Protect your personal time and mental state by setting limits on your media consumption, whether that’s reading a newspaper, watching the news, or scrolling through social media.
Set aside a time of day, such as the first hour when you wake up, when you don’t look at your phone, or use a browser extension such as StayFocusd to set a time limit on certain websites. When we limit the things in our lives that trigger stress and anxiety—we protect our mental health.
3. Try a New Hobby
Take the extra time at home as an opportunity to try an activity you’ve always been curious about. A hobby should not come from a pressure to feel productive. It can be something you do just for yourself.
Some new hobby ideas include drawing, painting, embroidery, puzzles, knitting, or baking. Maybe now is the time to pick back up a dusty instrument or finally start a bullet journal. There’s no need to be perfect! This is something to do for its own sake.
4. Plan Something Special
Just because you can’t go out doesn’t mean you can’t do something special every now and then. Whether you’re living alone, with a significant other, or with your family, choose a night every week or two to plan something fun.
Turn your regular takeout into a date night with a tablecloth, a candle, and some romantic music. Add a fun spin to dinner with the family by planning a themed night, complete with kid-made decorations. Turn your nightly Netflix viewing into a special movie night with some popcorn and candy. A friend of mine plays virtual Bingo with her granddaughter on a regular basis. They have a blast! Having something simple to look forward to can make all the difference.
No self-care routine can solve financial strain or serious health issues. If you’re dealing with serious depression or anxiety, please consider seeking professional help.