Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash
According to a survey conducted in 2020, 84 percent of adults reported feeling at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress—anxiety, sadness, and anger. The respondents were stressed about the pandemic, which they felt created a significant negative impact on their mental health.
While manifesting emotional wellness can help you unblock your feelings, it’s still essential to practice self-care so you can take care of yourself and others. Self-care involves putting your needs first by performing simple, daily activities that provide you relief when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Some self-care activities you can do are:
1. Reading and learning
Reading is a good pastime that strengthens the brain, prevents cognitive decline, and reduces stress. Even just 15–30 minutes of reading per day can greatly relax you and keep your mind off things. However, anxiety caused by COVID-19 can make it difficult to immerse in books, especially if you don’t have a well-established habit of reading.
Start by dismantling the idea of a perfect reader. You’re reading because it’s fun, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about dropping books that don’t work for you. The right genre can also help; novels, history books, and self-help guides may be better right now than news articles or non-fiction books. Just learning something new can help keep your mind more active while also helping you stay curious and entertained.
2. Preparing your own meals and treats
Self-care promotes the idea of nourishing yourself on every level, and there’s no better way to nourish yourself than to prepare your own food and indulge in homemade treats. Cooking or baking something delicious can feel like a reset button for your brain because you’re focusing solely on the task at hand.
Ingredients like berries, nuts, grains, and oily fish can boost your mental health, so you can try recipes that include those. Or why not use your kitchen to travel around the world? Mix up your weekly menu with recipes from places you want to visit (but can’t right now), and let your taste buds take the trip for you.
3. Consulting with healthcare professionals
One of the best ways we can combat chronic diseases related to stress, anxiety, and substance abuse is to seek professional mental health care. Although there is an ongoing shortage of psychiatrists across the country, many advanced-practice nurses are closing this gap by stepping up and practicing autonomously. This is becoming more commonplace today as mental health services are shifting to telehealth arrangements.
In fact, the entire healthcare system is turning to digital channels following the pandemic, including healthcare education. Nurses can now advance their careers by taking online master’s degrees in nursing, which lets them specialize in critical fields such as mental health. They’re taught to engage in holistic care with strong problem-solving and decision-making skills, which are needed to address the continuing demand for mental health professionals. Programs like these come at an ideal time when the workforce is changing through remote work as well. As insurance covers more services now, many adults are comfortable undergoing telehealth counseling sessions from home. Whether or not you’re struggling, it’s always better to have an occasional check-in with a professional to assess your mental health.
4. Reaching out to family and friends
Face-to-face social interactions with other people can improve our physical and mental well-being; this is why the loneliness and isolation caused by pandemic lockdown orders felt extra draining. Interacting with other people triggers our nervous system to release neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin, which help us respond better to stress and anxiety.
Maintaining high quality, close relationships and feelings of social connection are essential for our health. Zoom fatigue aside, it’s nice to regularly stay in touch with the people we care about. Talking to friends and sharing burdens is a great way to re-energize; to make it more purposeful, you can also set up virtual “club meetings” and discuss books, master new games, or trade lifestyle tips with each other.