How to look after your mental health during a pandemic The world around us appears to be falling apart, but thankfully there's always a way to give ourselves a pick-me-up.

The past few months have been devastating for our mental health. Crippling fear, a lack of socializing and enforced isolation can wreak havoc on a person’s well-being, and, for many, it turned what was already a hard time into an unbearable period. It’s difficult knowing what to do and what we can do to improve our situation, as the world around us appears to be falling apart, but thankfully there’s always a way to give ourselves a pick-me-up.

Whether it be exercise, self-care, or gorging on treats, there are plenty of coping mechanisms to help make living through a pandemic just that little bit easier. However, if you find yourself stuck, and can’t seem to drag yourself out of a negative state, here are a few things you can do that will hopefully make things at least slightly better. Hang in there.

Avoid speculation and fake news

Stick to objective and science-based outlets like MSNBC and The Economist.

It’s natural to want to stay informed, as it can give us a small sense of control and understanding; however, during your search for knowledge, it’s important to get your information from reputable sources, and places that are free from speculation and sensualization. That is because disreputable sources are more likely to run stories that may not be entirely true, as they try to drum up panic and hysteria.

Speculation and conspiracy can fuel anxiety, something that you don’t want to have during this time as it can increase headaches, dizziness and lead to depression. It’s suggested that you get your information from neutral news channels like CNN, The Economist, Salon, and MSNBC — meaning news sources that haven’t got an overt political agenda behind them.

The Internet can be a convenient place to get news and information from, but only rely on trusted, reliable sources like the twitter feeds of trusted networks. Don’t fall into the trap of believing every person screaming about the pandemic.

Stay connected

Being in physical isolation can make it easier for some people to regress into their shells and avoid any form of socialization. It’s important for your own sake that you avoid this from happening and still make the effort to keep up with your connections.

Although it’s inadvisable to meet up with lots of people, there are still safe ways to connect. You can go the traditional route and have a phone call, or you can engage in a Zoom call individually or with a group. You can also be social while playing video games, making dancing videos on TikTok, and even connect on social media through likes, comments, and shares.

All these forms of connectivity can help us avoid feelings of loneliness and can help us understand that we’re going through this together. A burden shared is a burden lessened.

Exercise more

It can be very hard to will yourself to get up and be active, but the effort is worth it as exercise remains one of the best ways to improve your mental health during a pandemic or otherwise. This is because exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel energized, happy and fulfilled.

Related: 6 ways to hold yourself accountable to a workout routine

Exercise can also do wonders for our physical health and, if kept up with, our appearance, which can make individuals feel more confident. In fact, Myprotein‘s research has determined that 56% of Americans are concerned about their health, meaning that engaging in some form of exercise can really help elevate these fears.

Related: 5 low impact workouts that will help you get ready for summer

If you’re able to, and feel comfortable doing so, a good form of exercise is going for a run, as with this you’re able to go at your own pace for as long as you feel you can go, or you can simply walk. If this isn’t an option for you, you can also attempt some of the many home workouts that have been sweeping the nation.

Practice self-care

During this time, it’s super easy to fall into bad habits, such as sleeping late, not getting changed all day, forgetting to wash, and eating copious amounts of junk food. Letting yourself go and operating outside of a restrictive routine can seem appealing at first; however, maintaining a good daily structure is essential for your mental health.

Making the effort to maintain a routine, such as following basic self-care protocols such as eating healthy, sleeping more, keeping yourself hydrated, can do you good and seriously improve your mood. Another good thing to do is to make sure your home is well ventilated, as fresh air can rejuvenate you.

Doing things to avoid stress can also help with mental health, for example, taking steps to keep up with your finances, such as budgeting, and planning the tasks you need to do daily.

Of course, self-care can also mean taking time out from your day to simply shut off and relax. The most popular way to do this is to enjoy a nice warm candle-lit bath, but other options include reading, drawing and coloring, or some low effort creative output, such as baking.

Seek professional support

There’s still a perception that professional support for mental health is reserved for the severely ill, but that simply isn’t true. There are countless support networks and organizations that would be more than happy to provide aid. The majority of these services have a support line where you can speak to an advisor anonymously so that you can reveal your feelings without fear or embarrassment.

There’s no shame in using these services. In fact, it’s actually the smart thing to do to seek professional help rather than trying to sort yourself out. Moreover, the range of services available range from light-touch listening to more intense therapy, so there will be a form that suits your needs.

Be kind to yourself

During this pandemic, there has been immense pressure to be productive and use the abundance of free time to better yourself in some way, but it’s important to remember that is not imperative.

You need to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that simply coping with this situation is good enough. It’s far more important to focus on recovery than to focus on learning a new skill or dropping some weight.

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