Six Personal Ways to Deal With Your Mental Health During COVID

What you can do when life has been thrown on its head… and placed underwater.

by Stephanie Hiltz
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Today I woke up and the day felt overwhelming. My first thought was why is every COVID day the same? How can I get through today and not feel this sense of BLAH? Do you ever feel like this? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

As a mom of a 9 and 5 year old, with a loving husband and a beautiful life, most people I know would never think I feel this way. Life before the last 5 months of COVID was one way and now as we can all attest, life has been thrown on its head… and placed underwater.

As a parent you’re mitigating the emotions of your family unit, yet because it’s all-day and every day, it feels like your own emotions are on the back burner. This is not abnormal for families at the best of times, however the bubbles we place ourselves in for COVID create a sensory overload amplified by a lack of motion mentally and physically. One spark flies for something that in the past would be a tiny issue and the fire is so great you explode.

This explosion can vary for people. Some may go quiet and hide, some break down and cry, some get angry and lose their head. The fact is, something has to happen. There is a tipping point for any parent no matter how put together you are.

I had one of those mornings: I woke up and thought am I handling COVID well?

So is there a way to avoid this type of day? Can you take steps to work through these feelings quickly and effectively on your own time? Thank goodness the answer is a big YES.

So without further adieu, here are six ways to cope with COVID:

1) Talk to your significant other or tell those closest to you how you’re feeling

If you don’t have many off-centered days, this is one of the most difficult tasks to complete and why it should be first on the list. If you’re not sure who to go to, think of someone who you would want to come to you with the exact same feelings. Likely the feeling is mutual and it will be a safe space to open up.

2) Listen to music

You can start with songs that match your feelings to help sort out your emotions, but by the end, music that lifts your mood is necessary. Singing out loud or dancing (try both!) are encouraged.

3) Sit on this and meditate

Meditation can now be achieved by anyone with simple guided apps that can be purchased or found for free online. The CALM App is highly recommended. There are 10-minute guided meditations that I use for days like today and it works!

4) Journal it out

Writing out your thoughts in a journal or dictating them onto your phone in a note can be incredibly therapeutic. After you find the words to describe your feelings, you can make the decision to keep and re-read your words or just discard them because they’ve served their purpose.

5) Exercise!

This one is a no-brainer but needs to be said. It can feel onerous trying to commit to finding enough time for working out, but the multi-layered benefits make exercising worth it.

The best is exercising outdoors in nature. In this case, just spending time alone with yourself walking in nature for a minimum of 15 minutes can bring the sense of calm you’re looking to achieve.

6) Time to nap

It’s a less traveled approach but one that I find personally effective. It’s a form of letting go and relaxing your mind, but this is a tricky method. You want it to be a way to heal your mind but not ignore your feelings.

What you do with your feelings upon waking is the important part. Ideally, you should wake up feeling revitalized, like you can move forward with a clearer head. If you wake with similar feelings of anxiety or depression move on to another option.
Tip: Science shows that a power nap of 20-45 minutes achieves optimal results.

Act, Don’t React

You can combine any number of these ideas to help normalize your feelings and put your mental health in a safe space. Truth: today I did them all.

From my personal experience, listening to friends, and researching, one thing is clear: you really can’t do nothing. Even if that is what feels like the natural go-to. This list is but a start to help you make space to feel and talk about what is real to you. Take ownership of your feelings and commit to actions you know will improve your mental health. For you and your family’s health – it is non-negotiable.

NOTE: If these personal ideas are not cutting the mustard, always visit your health care provider for appropriate measures.

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