Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Stressful Times

By: Kathryn Ferrara

As COVID-19 has spread throughout the country it brought many devastating effects to communities, including a rapid rise in mental health struggles. According to recent data from Mental Health America (MHA),  the number of people with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety steadily increased throughout 2020. Current rates remain higher than those prior to the onset of the pandemic. This data serves as an important reminder to everyone reading that they are not alone, as mental health struggles remain rampant in current times.  Loss of employment or pandemic-related job stress, financial concerns, disrupted routines, and isolation caused by social distancing measures have taken a serious toll on the overall health and well-being of people among all communities.

Prioritizing self-care is a crucial part of coping with stress and anxiety in a healthy way. Ways to do this include:

  • Meditation

Research shows that meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are many types of meditation, and plenty of free resources available to help guide you through the process of getting started. Here’s a great starter guide for beginners, including some free audio practices.

  • Exercise

The radical changes the pandemic has brought to our lifestyles has made it challenging to find ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine. Check out these strategies for engaging in physical activity while maintaining social distancing.

  • Good Nutrition

Nutrition is important, but sometimes having a healthy diet is easier said than done. It can take time, effort, and money that many simply don’t have. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips available for those looking to improve their diet in a way that fits their lifestyle and resources. Take a look at this excellent resource for easy recipes for busy families, tips for meal planning and prepping to reduce cooking time, and grocery shopping on a budget.

  • Sleep

There is plenty of research that links quality sleep to optimal physical and mental health. Achieving this is another task that can be easier said than done for many, especially as stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. These healthy sleep tips can be a great starting point for those looking to learn more about how to foster optimal sleep schedules, bedtime routines, and pro-sleep habits.

  • The Power of “Me” Time

Figure out what you enjoy and make time for it where you can. Research shows that engaging in leisurely activities can “induce positive emotions and reduce stress.” It may look a little different than what you are used to while social distancing measures continue, as some activities that people enjoy such as traveling aren’t as feasible right now. However, this can be an excellent opportunity to explore some new interests. Check out these creative suggestions for spending your free time in a safe, yet enjoyable way.

  • Stay Connected to Others

It’s important to remember that distance doesn’t mean disengagement. When life is absent of meaningful connections with others, it could lead to feelings of isolation which contribute to depression and anxiety. There is no doubt that socializing in current times is challenging and requires a bit of creativity. With that said, staying engaged with our loved ones is still possible even while following social distancing guidelines.  Here’s some simple suggestions for safely maintaining social connections.

However, some may find these strategies are not enough to manage the feelings of depression and anxiety that they are experiencing. It is important to remember that help is available! Figuring out where to start can feel like a daunting task, especially with the draining effect mental health struggles have on our energy and motivation.  Check out this compilation of free, confidential resources available for those looking for help for themselves or a loved one.

You may also contact thedapc@gmail.com if you would like additional information and resources.

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