3 Coping Mechanisms To Improve Your Mental Health During A Pandemic
There has been so much happening in the world over the last two years that mental health has become a big issue. Sudden loss of freedoms and jobs, financial uncertainty and a host of other things have made it harder and harder to cope.
So let’s take a look at three simple methods to use to stay in the game and not let it all get too much.
Set a morning routine
Establishing a set routine in the morning allows you to anchor yourself, which is very important in the world of psychology. You may have heard people say “I may not be able to control the whole day, but I can control my morning”.
This could be as simple as the military technique of making your bed perfectly as soon as you get up.
Taking charge of something right away means you’ve achieved something immediately and your day is off to a successful start.
You may choose to call your friends every morning. It’s a set routine and it gives you certainty when you may not know what the next day or week is going to look like.
A lot of people who have struggled throughout lockdowns and other aspects of the pandemic have not had those routines. When routines go out the window, you may feel like you’ve lost part of what makes you who you are. So re-establishing that structure now that lockdowns have finished (at least for now), can help you recapture that anchor for the day.
Movement for mental health
There are plenty of people who argue that there is a link between physical health and mental health. In fact there has been extensive research into the connection.
Sometimes, you may imagine that when someone is depressed or anxious they are sitting in the house in that state. Maybe doing something physical can help them feel better. Exercise is known to release endorphins and it can be a coping mechanism for stress that has positive flow-on effects, such as meeting new friends and having satisfying experiences.
It doesn’t have to be intense sessions of lifting heavy weights or running marathons, but even starting by walking around the house or doing some gardening might give you the opportunity to do something you wouldn’t normally do and find that it was beneficial.
A lot of the thinking around health these days is centred on the holistic approach. Gut health, sleep, physical and mental health are all connected. One of the best things you can do is incorporate movement into your day.
Meditation and mindfulness
A lot of people like to see end results and tangible change in their lives so they can measure the success of what they are doing.
If you’re anxious or depressed, you can pop pills and immediately feel better, so it gives you that result. It’s the same if you use alcohol. You may automatically feel like your troubles are eased a little bit, but these practices aren’t sustainable long term when you consider your health.
Swapping medication for meditation and practicing mindfulness can help break your reliance on coping mechanisms that you may not want to use permanently.
Mindfulness can be very beneficial, especially in combating depression and anxiety. The problem is reconciling that need for instant results that we feel. People might have a go at meditation and they feel nothing, so they say “it doesn’t work for me” and they go back to their previous habits and coping mechanisms.
So, to know that you are making progress, you might give yourself a little score. How am I feeling as I meditate? Okay, there’s a difference in scale from one to 10 since last time. Looking at it that way can be motivating and encouraging. And when you can see a success, or a tangibility in the changes you are making that previously seemed intangible, you land on something that is a sustainable coping mechanism for the future.