Here are some tips to stay mentally healthy during this crisis. It’s not easy when faced with such an unprecedented time. The pandemic is sweeping through the countries like the wildfires that plague California each fall. But it’s not just the pandemic. The financial impact is already beginning to ripple into the economy. Several industries are on the verge of collapse, and we are only a few weeks into this.
- Feel your feelings. While it’s tempting to jump into bounce-back mode, it’s unhealthy to avoid feeling your feelings. If you want to stay mentally healthy during this crisis, you’ll have to allow yourself to feel your feelings. You may find that journaling will help.
- Don’t wallow in despair. It only takes about ninety seconds to move through a feeling if you fully allow it. That’s even true for intense feelings. When you try to ignore them, they can stick around much longer. That makes it easy to start to wallow in them.
- Meditate every day. Even if it’s only for ten minutes, a daily meditation practice will calm your nervous system. Since stress is the biggest factor in getting sick, a calm nervous system is extremely important. Can’t meditate? Don’t know how? Here’s an easy one: use “square breathing” to focus your mind. Inhale for a count of four. Hold your breath at the top of the inhale for four. Exhale for a count of four. Hold your breath at the bottom of the exhale for four. Keep your eyes closed and set a timer. When your mind wanders, just return your attention to your breath.
- Avoid sugar as much as possible. People are already joking about “pandemic weight”. But sugar is terrible when you’re trying to manage stress. It may feel good in the moment, but it weakens the immune system.
- Employ physical distancing, but maintain social connection. Zoom is a great app for virtual lunches and happy hours several times a week. And of course, all of our work meetings have become virtual. It can be challenging to maintain connection in a virtual meeting, but this article has some great tips. Just because we can’t get near each other doesn’t mean we have to be isolated.
- Go on a news diet. It can be tempting to obsessively check the latest news several times a day, but resist the urge. You already know this crisis is really bad. Pay attention to the news as little as possible and still stay informed.
And one more bonus tip for staying sane during this crisis: be gentle with yourself, dear human. You are a precious being, and the world needs you now more than ever. Do whatever you need in each moment to take good care of yourself. There are memes circulating about how you have to clean your house, learn a new language, and pick up new skills. If any of those things make you feel better, go for it! But don’t put pressure on yourself. It’s enough to get out of this alive.