COVID Reality Check… 7 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Mental Health and Happiness
Reality check folks! The world we live in is experiencing acute COVID-induced depression and anxiety. Not only are we in the midst of a viral pandemic, but we’re also in a mental health pandemic, of levels we’ve never seen before. In this article, you will discover 7 powerful ways to improve your mental health and happiness.
Made You Smile Back has decided to dive into this problematic topic and face it head-on, ‘sticker shock’ and all. We shall explore the sobering facts that we are faced with. The symptoms of this COVID-induced syndrome will be detailed. Hope will be provided by Made You Smile Back for you to discover 7 powerful ways to boost your mental health during this acute Covid pandemic.
You will learn to create your own happiness even through these troubling times and finally, habits and ways to stay mentally happy.
Reality Check! The World is Experiencing COVID-Induced Depression and Anxiety!
Yes, it is true folks! The world is experiencing acute COVID-induced depression and anxiety, otherwise also known as the COVID-Syndrome. No one is immune. The facts are the facts. People's mental health is in trouble.
According to a recent article by Sigal Samuel, for the online publication known as Vox.Com, she reported that "even before the pandemic hit, rates of depression and anxiety were rising globally." Today, with the ever-surging COVID-19 to deal with, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high worldwide.
Going further, Sigal Samuel, tells us that "...Studies show that all the virus-induced losses — of life, of jobs, of social connection — have come with serious upticks in mental illness across the globe."
In fact, per the CDC, the United States shows the prevalence of depression four times as high as it was in the second quarter of 2019. This is not just a viral medical health issue, it is a mental health crisis as well.
You know and I know this mental health crisis has affected all of us in one way or another. I don't know about you, but I have found myself having moments of not just depression and anxiety, but even the prolonged self-contained 'isolation' mandated has taken its toll on my own mental health. And what about how it is affecting our children!
It is not only important but it is vital that we learn powerful tips and coping strategies to improve our mental health and well-being. But first, let's check the telltale signs and symptoms of this pervasive situation we now have all have found ourselves in...
COVID Mental Health Checklist
Jessica Koblenz, PsyD, a licensed Pyschologist in the state of New York has worked with many clients and has had the ability to see how many people are coping given the situation at hand of the coronavirus pandemic. She noticed trends in her clients' lifestyles in how their lives have been impacted and what contributing factors played a part in those who both seem to cope better and for those who are not coping well in their daily routines.
So take a much-needed pause and check-in with yourself. See how you are doing among the drastic changes that have occurred in these past covid weeks (and months!) and above all else, do allow yourself some compassion to remind yourself of what you have gone through.
Are you experiencing any of these?
Feelings of anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, and fear are certainly normal to feel during a pandemic. Fortunately, learning to be proactive about your mental health can help to keep both your well-being and physical body stronger and healthier.
In the next section, Made You Smile Back will share with you 7 powerful ways to improve your mental health and happiness.
Discover 7 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Mental Health & Happiness
Here are 7 powerful ways to boost your mental health and happiness:
1) Manage your Expectations
During this extended period of living through the restricted mandated social distancing rules, it is so important to learn to manage our expectations. Being in a state of distraction, having difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks and simply having low motivation is to be expected.
Adaptation will take time. Go easy on yourself. Be realistic in the goals you set, both for ourselves and others.
2) Know your Red Flags
Learn to protect your emotional well-being and know what your 'triggers' are which may bring you to a state of unbalance or becoming overwhelmed. Once you know what sets you off, then have an 'action plan' on hand ready to execute.
For me, I try to simply remove myself from the situation. Try going to another room, make a phone call, take a walk or if necessary, even take a short drive up the road to the park. And what do I do next?!
3) Proactively Manage your Stress Threshold
I know you've heard this on more than one occasion but it is really true. Yes, maintaining a simple exercise routine will lower your stress levels, help you to better manage your emotions and you will definitely sleep much better.
Try to lay a solid foundation for your mental health and well-being by also eating well and be sure to include healthy green salads on a daily basis. And one more thing, just adding cold glasses of water throughout the day will also make a marked difference in how you feel.
4) Stay Connected
Let's face it. We humans are social animals. We crave and need daily connection. Unfortunately, as we spend more time in our homes, removed from being around our friends, family and co-workers, the lack of physical touch is taking its toll on our emotional well-being.
And for those people who live alone especially, this extended lack of contact is even more problematic. But just because we have to maintain 'social distancing' from one another, it doesn't mean we can't still be emotionally connected and close to our family and friends.
Fortunately, with today's technology, we have at our disposal the ability to stay connected via cell phone, virtual face-time (i.e., Zoom, etc.) and as simple as sending a text message or via Facebook Messenger. Hearing someone's voice and the added benefit of 'seeing one another' makes a huge difference in our overall mental health and happiness.
5) Establishing Set Routines
Establishing a well set routine for your day helps to manage anxiety and stress levels. It will also help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality. Journaling is known for its therapeutic benefits as well. Try it.
6) Learn to be Compassionate
Learn to be more compassionate with not only ourselves but to others as well. Know what you cannot control, but remind yourselves that during these challenging times, they can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress.
7) Don't get Overwhelmed and Stay in the Present
Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. In the next section below, you will learn a quick 5 minute mindfulness exercise that will immediately help you stay centered and focused.
Ways to STAY Mentally Healthy
Research shows happiness is NOT about things, but rather all about CHEMICALS.- Staci Danford
We all need to learn how to be mentally healthy and happy. It's not enough to know good mental health tips, but one needs to actually employ them to be effective.
I recently had the opportunity of meeting Staci Danford who has a master's degree in Mind, Brain & Education. She was the guest speaker in one of the Mastermind sessions I belong to. She is passionate about her studies in Neuroscience and it was such an eye-opener when she started explaining how the various chemicals work inside our brain.
Coincidentally (or maybe not!), the topic came up about how many of us are not coping with stress very well during this Covin pandemic we're in. The days and weeks and now months are taking a toll on our psyche. As a result many of us are experiencing anxiety for either the first time or at much higher levels than ever before.
The S.T.O.P. Mindfulness Exercise
Staci explained S.T.O.P. -- a coping strategy to help those of us when facing a lot of stress and/or anxiety. S.T.O.P. is a powerful mindfulness mental trick one can use to get through stressful situations and moments like today as we struggle during this Covid pandemic.
S.T.O.P. is surprisingly a basic strategy that brings forth those 'feel good neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to help us become more focused, alert and relaxed. This four-step mental checklist takes all of 5 minutes or less to do. So who's ready to take a much-needed break of reflection and learn this technique!
S = Stop
Stop what you are doing: Press the pause button on your thoughts and actions.
T = Take
Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and bring yourself fully into the present moment.
O = Observe
Observe what is going on around you.
What physical sensations are you aware of (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell)?
What are you feeling right now?
What assumptions are your making about your feelings? What is the story you’re telling yourself about why you are having them?
P = Proceed
Proceed with whatever you were doing, making a conscious, intentional choice to incorporate what you just learned.
So the next time you find yourself being a little bit more stressed or anxious than you want to be, remember this S.T.O.P. technique and use it to your advantage. And remember, you can apply this powerful technique and even make it a habit to improve your mental health virtually 'on-demand'!
Take Away & Final Thoughts
I just want to continue to remind you that it is YOUR right to be happy. And the only way you can make sure you are, is to be mindful that you MUST improve your mental health to be as fit as you should be physically.
We covered a lot of content in this extensive article and I hope that you come away with one or two tips that will resonate with you during the course of your day anytime you begin to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or emotionally spent. The S.T.O.P. method is truly life-changing if you take the time to memorize it and use it whenever needed.
I leave you in quoting this thought-provoking quote written by Nichole Spector, which was recently published in the Time online magazine: