How to Improve Your Mental Health During COVID-19

By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer

Photo by Juan Camilo Navia on Unsplash

2020 has been quite a year so far. I remember first reading about the spread of coronavirus in China in January, but it didn’t seem likely to turn into what it did - but here we are, still living in it. I don’t think many of us considered that a pandemic would sweep the globe and turn our lives upside down practically overnight. Well, it didn’t happen overnight but it sure felt like it did. We were told not to worry for a significant period of time, and then suddenly we were being told that yes, we had to worry, and we had to worry A LOT, and advised to quarantine if at all possible. It was terrifying, to put it mildly.

People all over the world, including all across the U.S. have been affected in countless ways. Many of us lost our jobs, many of us were required to continue working because our jobs were considered essential even if we were afraid to expose ourselves and our families, many of us found ourselves quarantined and feeling isolated, afraid to even go to the grocery store. 

I personally had nightmarish vivid dreams for weeks before coming across an article that explained why this was happening to me, and the fact that I definitely wasn’t the only one it was happening to. 

My point is, things have changed. All of us have been affected in a myriad of ways - whether it’s because we can’t go to the gym, because we’re scared to go to work, or because we have no work to go to, for the last few months very few of us have escaped unscathed. The good news is there are things you can do right at home to help alleviate some of your stress. Here are some ideas that you can try out:

  • Take a relaxing hot bath
  • Read a good book 
  • Go on a nature walk (don’t forget your mask!)
  • Buy a mindfulness coloring book
  • Buy a paint by numbers painting (I started buying these at the beginning of quarantine - they are so much fun!)
  • Meditate (here’s a how-to article for beginners)
  • Find a friend or two and agree to help keep each other company - keep your circle small to stay safe
  • Join a virtual book club
  • Spend quality time with your pet - or get a pet if you are able to
  • Spend some time on your porch or your balcony stargazing, if possible
  • Start a mental health journal. Begin every day by writing 3 affirmations and 3 things you are grateful for, and jot down any notes you’d like - how you’re feeling, for instance
  • Find a new hobby you can do at home (cooking, baking, sewing, etc.)
  • Create your very own indoor garden (Check out Pinterest for some ideas)
  • Make a DIY terrarium 
  • Give yourself permission to have downtime: that can mean bingeing on Netflix for hours if it helps you feel good. Don’t feel like you have to be productive 100% of the time - that will only add to your stress levels.

Bear in mind that these ideas are small ways to help influence how you feel throughout the day. If you are feeling excessively stressed, anxious, or depressed because of COVID-19, know that you are alone. Know that there is help for you. According to recent studies:

  • Americans are reporting significant and sustained increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Women, minorities, people with preexisting health conditions, and adults under 34 all reported higher rates of fear and anxiety.
  • The number of people reporting these symptoms are well above historical norms.

All of this may be even more challenging to diagnose considering current social distancing guidelines aimed at helping stem the spread of COVID-19 but there are still options available for you. Mental Health America provides a list of resources if you need additional help or support. Please reach out to a professional for help if you need it.

Do you have any other ideas for alleviating stress at home? Please share below!

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