Dear friends, this year hasn’t started well. We’ve been witnesses of COVID-19 pandemic, that started changing the way we all live. We can’t travel, we can’t go even out when we want or wherever we want. Yes, our lives changed in so many ways. There are many anxious people – and it is expected. It’s a normal reaction in non-normal circumstances. You may feel depressed, worried, even traumatized. Mental health experts even anticipate a raise in PTSP prevalence in the following months, even years.
I am going to share some advice on how to stay sane in this unexpected, crazy year.
Go for long walks
If you have a chance to go for long walks in nature with your family, use the chance to do it. Immunologists say that 30 minutes in wood can build up your immune system for a month! It also helps battle colds and flu. Walking in nature also speeds up recovery time after illness. It is good for your heart and brain. Walking reduces weights, strengthens your bones, improves athletic performance.Walking in nature, just like any sort of exercise, increases serotonin and endorphin levels. We call serotonin and endorphin mood boosters. It reduces anxiety, controls depression, decreases stress, improves mood and self-esteem. Walking in nature, also, diminishes obsessive, negative thoughts.
I can understand your urge to watch all the news and follow the numbers. I know, I’ve been there. It makes you no good, trust me. Stay offline as much as you can, turn off the news. Use the internet and other contemporary benefits to have fun and laugh, talk to your friends and family, or learn something new. Listening about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. You don’t need this. Make a decision to watch the news only once a day and stick to it. When you watch the news or read stuff on social media, make sure you read reliable sources. Celebrities are not epidemiologists, immunologists, scientists. The athlete you admire may have won Olimpic gold, but he does not see the big picture when it’s about pandemic or viruses. When you need advice on writing, you ask writers, and not surgeons, right?
Take care of yourself – and the others
This may sound silly, but it is very important! Take deep breaths, exercise, talk to people you like and love. Keep your schedule – wake up at the same time every day, go to sleep early, try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, avoid drugs and alcohol. Stay cautious, but do not panic. If you can work from home, stick to your schedule. Help those that need help. Maybe you can bring bread and milk from the store to your old neighbour. Small acts of kindness are sometimes the greatest things you could actually do.
Use your time
This may be the time to do all those things you were putting off for a long time – reading that book, watching the movie, writing a story, learning to play an instrument or speak a foreign language. Maybe you haven’t played with your children for weeks. Make your home an oasis of things that you love. If you love travelling, stick photos on the wall, watch travel channels or youtube videos… plan your next trip. I am writing! 🙂 I’ve been quite productive. I have finished my PhD thesis, I wrote a research paper for psychology journal and now I am writing this article. Not bad at all!
One of the great and beneficial activities to do in isolation is to write. You can write poems, stories, books or a simple diary. There are several short- and long-term health benefits of writing.
Writing about stressful experiences reduces stress! expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 minutes a day for a few months is enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality.
Maybe you won’t believe it at all, but writing builds up your immune system, decreases risk of illness. It even helps your wounds heal faster!
Writing a diary can help you feel better, it lifts your mood and life satisfaction. It’s actually good for your overall emotional health. The best time to start writing is now!
But still … if you feel hopeless… contact a mental health professional! You don’t need to go through this alone. We are trained to help you. And most of us really enjoy helping you help yourself.
Remember that every problem has a solution. Maybe it seems this may never end, but one day we will call this history. Until then, stay well!