Tips for mental wellness during global anxiety

Article originally published in Medium

By Jasmine Hermans

I try not to keep it a secret that I have struggled with my mental health for a long time. Almost six years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as panic disorder. I have tried everything you can imagine to help manage it, and the good news is that I have succeeded.

As everyone practises “social distancing” and as many are in isolation, health professionals have warned that it will be difficult for neurotypical people to stay mentally healthy. As humans we are social creatures. We need interaction. We need to experience life. So how can we stay mentally healthy in these isolating times?

Below I have compiled a list of practical tips that have worked for me for years and that I personally will be following for as long as this COVID-19 pandemic lasts. Try one, try all. But remember that at the end of the day, mental health is health, so it’s important to take care of it.

  1. Make a new routine. I thrive on routine and planning. If life throws me off my plan, it really affects me mentally. But now I have had to adjust everything. I am doing so by getting up at my usual time, showering, making a plan for my day, and sticking to it. Pro tip — crossing things off a list feels really good.

  2. Drink water. Water is healthy — it reduces headaches, bloating and can also be a thing you cross off that list.

  3. Make a happy playlist. I get it. You’re cool and you hate Top 40. But I’ve got news for you, Top 40 is some happy, fun stuff so try it. Shout out to Spotify which has hundreds of playlists under ‘Happy’.

  4. Read for 30 minutes a day. Use this or other activities such as drawing or playing an instrument as a break from binge-watching. Keep that brain moving and distracted.

  5. Meditate. Or, just remember to breathe. It’s science that when you take fuller breaths, your body and mind relax. Try the app Calm, or Oak is a good free one.

  6. Move. Go outside, stretch. You are allowed to go for runs and walks. Do so, regularly.

  7. Turn it off. It’s tempting to keep yourself updated and that’s fine but take breaks or turn off notifications and only check when you want to.

  8. Do the thing you’ve been putting off. Learn that thing, spruce up that room. You’ve got resources (hello, internet) and time. When this is all over, you’ll be glad you did.

  9. Be kind to yourself. Maybe you have existing mental health issues. Maybe these feelings are new for you. But the trick is to allow your feelings to happen and accept that you are and will be okay.

  10. Keep your spaces clean. You know that feeling when you finally clean your room after ignoring it? Feels good, right? Do that everywhere. And then, once you can be social again you won’t have to worry about it.

Not everything works for everyone. But spend a bit of time trying these out and find your mentally clear, calm place. Your mind and body will thank you.

-Jasmine Hermans, Person With Lived Experience and Public Affairs Consultant

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