How to Care For Your Mental Well-being through Coronavirus and Beyond |Guest Post by James Burton
Day in, day out, you used to take your car to work, shuttling back and forth between your home and the office. There were days on the road when you knew your car was running smoothly, the engine humming as it should at stoplights and eating up miles like a kid at a candy store.
Other days there might be a splutter or two, maybe the appearance of the engine light, or even an unexpected stall that induced a small moment of panic. Between the good and the bad, you were aware of how well your car was running.
Now that it’s in the garage stuck at home, there’s every danger that improper maintenance means that your car’s health might be debilitating – and you won’t even know. The same is true for your mental health.
These are unprecedented times, and staying at home all day, whether it’s working or not, without the usual norms of everyday life to escape to, together with the additional stresses of a global pandemic on your doorstep means it’s more important than ever to look after your mental health.
In this article, we’re going to look at ways to care for your mental well-being during this COVID-19 outbreak and how to manage anxiety, sustaining a level of inner balance that sees you through to when “normal service” resumes again.
A study in the Harvard Journal revealed that just 35 minutes of physical activity every day could protect the average person against depression. Indeed it’s well known that getting the body moving and the heart rate up for a small sustained period can be almost as effective as alleviating the symptoms of stress and anxiety as taking antidepressants. When the body is stressed, the body can go into fight or flight mode, bringing with it an onset of adrenaline that raises anxiety.
Exercise is a great way to relieve the body of this hormonal response and bring your mental wellbeing back into balance. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, but even just getting out and about, walking down to your local cafe or a brisk stroll around the park will be better than nothing, and do wonders for your mental health versus an afternoon lounging on the couch.
What you put in; you get out. As much as this, being one of those life-truths that works for what you put your mind to, it is equally valid for the relationship between your diet and your mental health. Too much caffeine can not only create an unhealthy dependency, but sustained levels of increased heart rate can leave the body more vulnerable to anxiety and stress.
Also, processed foods high in refined sugars from sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup can weaken your ability to deal with stress, subsequently triggering mental anxiety and preventing you from dealing with tough emotional situations.
This is primarily due to the rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels that occur after eating these types of foods, with the powerful sugar crashes making one irritable, moody, and ill-tempered. Instead, try to introduce more whole foods into your diet, as well as sources of Omega-3 like oily fish, eggs, and avocado, which have been shown to smooth out mood swings and equalize energy levels.
Not only are these the best brain foods, but they will leave you much better equipped to deal with stressful situations as they occur, and sustain a healthy mental balance.
Re-frame Difficult Thoughts
Almost a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, reframing difficult events into something more positive and less distressing, can help break the negative pattern one might usually create following such situations. Typically, one might have unpleasant thoughts that lead to unhelpful feelings and, consequently, vexatious actions. Reframing thoughts positively breaks this negative pattern.
Next time a troublesome scenario presents itself, try to focus on how it will be a success rather than how it might be a failure. Re-expressing your thoughts like this can leave you feeling more in control of the situation, and less likely to be left in a negative mindset.
Catch it, check it, and change it.
Breathing Techniques, Muscle Relaxation, & Mindfulness
When you focus on yourself, you will quite quickly become more aware of your current state of mind. Focusing on mindfulness, i.e. being aware of your surroundings, your breathing, and your emotional state gives you a bearing from which to work from. Identifying you are in a stressed state, is the first step to treating it.
When you are anxious, the body responds by tensing up the muscles and increasing your respiratory rate to deal with the raised heartbeat. Breathing techniques allow you to physically respond to inner anxiety, find a quiet spot, and close your eyes. Breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, gradually creating slower and more serene breathing calms both body and mind.
Don’t overlook the fact that sometimes we need to look outside ourselves for the help that we need. An NHS study from the UK showed that last year 52% of patients in talking therapy recovered. Therapy can highlight negative patterns, harmful habits, and trigger points that you yourself might have difficulty identifying. Not only these but if you’ve had trouble re-framing thoughts as mentioned above, then a therapist can get you back on track to a more optimistic and affirmative mindset through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Supplements and Antidepressants
The underlying cause of impairment to our mental health, usually, is a result of imbalances in the body. It’s good to try and tackle these in a change of mindset or routine, but sometimes the best and vitamin supplements can do well to address these problems directly. Provasil is one such supplement. A recent Provasil review showed that it is good at resolving long-term stress, creating a level to calm stormy thoughts. [ii]
Containing Vitamin B 12 and folic acid, this supplement contains only natural ingredients, meaning you can be confident it won’t lead to further bodily imbalance.
A healthy body is a healthy mind, so it’s vital to make sure you keep looking after the well-being of your grey matter. As you can see from the above, there’s nothing necessarily monumental about the changes you might have to introduce, just small tweaks to your everyday routine. Keep positive, eat right, and exercise well!