Many of us across the world are experiencing a surge in cases of Covid-19 in our respective countries and therefore our governments are introducing more and more restrictions. These restrictions (although useful and very important in combatting Covid-19) mean that more and more people are suffering mental health challenges. Social isolation, fear of the unknown illness, fear of job loss and so much more are a perfect breeding ground for anxiety, depression and other mental health illness. How do we stay mentally healthy? Here is a simple list of ways that may help you and your loved ones.
- If possible, go outside in daylight (wear a mask). Allow the sun to shine on you. It will create vitamin D which in turn has a positive effect on the immune system. It will also help to keep SAD (seasonal affected disorder) at bay. God created the sun to strengthen our bodies and minds. If you are not able (or don’t feel safe) going outside, open a window and sit enjoying the feel of the sun on your face.
- Exercise. This can take many forms. Do whatever you enjoy (not all sporting facilities may be open for use at this time). Walking, running, light aerobic exercises at home (Youtube has a multitude of great videos). Get food cans and put them in a bag and use them to do bicep curls and other strength based exercises. Stretch. Use your stairs (if you have them) to do step ups (holding a light weight in each hand).
- Schedule your day. Plan tasks for each day. Take five minutes every evening and work out what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Decide what time you need to be up and set an alarm.
- Spend time with God. Read the Bible. Listen to worship music. Feed your soul.
- Engage with people. If possible meet family and friends. You may need to be creative, meet someone outside and go for a walk. Even wearing masks you can see each others eyes and pray for one another. Connect into church events via Skype or Zoom if your church offers online programs. Call your loved ones and talk. Many services such as WhatsApp and Viber offer free phone and video calls.
- Enjoy the little things. Stop and take time to enjoy a tea or coffee. Take your time to enjoy any plants or flowers you may have. Examine each leaf, each petal. See how God created them so beautifully. Remember you are far more precious to Him than any plant.
- Eat your meals slowly. If alone, try to read or listen to music while having your meals rather than sitting in front of the television. If with loved ones, engage in non-Covid related conversation.
- Make sure to clean up. Put time aside to wash your dishes, tidy your home, make your bed. Put on some up-beat music. Sing and dance as you do your chores (even if you don’t want to). You will find yourself smiling and enjoying how silly you are. Small achievements such as a cleaner home can have a big impact on your well-being.
- Take Vitamin B every morning. Vitamin B is medically proven to help improve our mental health. It takes time, but after two or three weeks you will begin to notice that your mood has improved and you will feel less stressed.
- Reduce time watching or reading Covid-19 related news. Rather, take that time to watch an educational documentary or enjoy a fun comedy series.
- Reach out. Tell someone if you are struggling. Be real with people and they will be real with you. Cry if you need. Crying can be a very healthy emotional response and a wonderful way to cleanse the soul of hurts.
These are just a few ways to help you cope. It is by no means an exhaustive list. It is imperfect. Remember this is a unique time in history and no-one was prepared for how it would effect us. You are not failing. We are all doing our best in difficult times. Hold on to the hope we have in God.
Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.