4 Tips for Self-Care: How to Improve Wellness and Mental Health During challenging Times.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in mental health concerns for children, adolescents and adults world-wide. In fact, some data shows that there was an increase of 25% in anxiety and depression during the first year of Covid-19. Now, after two and a half years, it’s still playing a role in many people’s everyday lives. Changes in the workplace, returning to in-person events and activities, risks to vulnerable and racialized groups, experiences of loss and grief, recovery from illness, pandemic fatigue, and feelings of isolation are only some of the factors impacting our mental health. On a global scale, stories of economic uncertainty and upsetting world events are on the news and in social media. People are dealing with multiple stressors and this is all taking a toll as we are all learning to navigate this “new normal.”
How can we take care of ourselves during this time?
1. Identify and set small, achievable goals to improve wellness habits
Healthy wellness habits are foundational in protecting our mental health. Our bodies and minds benefit from quality sleep, good nutrition and hydration, fresh air and movement, and balance in our routines. It may feel overwhelming to think of all the possible positive changes we can make with our habits, so start small with a step. Here are some examples:
2. Learn and implement helpful coping strategies
When life is busy and it’s hard to find time, it can feel challenging to make wellness a priority. That said, dedicating a few minutes per day to your mental health is worth it. Here are a few simple and quick tools that you can try to add to your stress toolbox:
3. Stay connected and build support networks
The basic human need for connection never disappeared while we socially distanced and separated ourselves to protect each other. If you’ve become somewhat isolated or have lost touch with people through the pandemic, you may be wondering how to reconnect. If you are not currently working or you are working from home, the opportunities for socializing may still be limited. If you’ve returned to an in-person workplace after a period of working from home, it may feel awkward to be around others at first. You may be nervous and have a different tolerance for Covid-related risk than others, or you may be navigating differences of opinion amongst people you care about. Look into joining or rejoining an activity that you enjoy which also allows you to spend time with others with similar interests. You could schedule a weekly call or outing with a friend or family member. Explore opportunities to volunteer in your neighbourhood or community. Being there for others and exercising your own empathy is also proven to improve mood and mental health. Read above about kindness as a coping strategy - it can also decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. And consider this: pairing your social activity with a wellness activity, such as a walk with a friend outdoors or volunteering with a friend, maximizes and enhances the benefits to your mental health.
4. Tune in to signals that you might need some extra support
Even with our best efforts and wonderful support networks, sometimes we need help getting through challenging times. If low mood, emotional distress, anxiety, worry, anger, or other feelings are impacting your quality of life or relationships, and interfering with your ability to do the things you need to do and with your ability to do the things that you normally enjoy doing, it may be time to consider therapy. You can meet with a therapist that will help you to devise a treatment plan that can address your specific needs and help you to overcome obstacles that are getting in the way of your mental health and wellness.
Inner Oak therapy can support you with your goal of mental wellness. We encourage you to reach out for a free 15 - minute chat to see how one of our clinicians can help you get started with your goals.
Written by Lisa Brandon