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How To Look After Your Mental Health

How To Look After Your Mental Health

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, but it sometimes gets put on the backburner. An estimated 1 in 4 American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health issue, but many do not seek professional help. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on mental health. Practicing self-care and getting help when you need it is vital to both your overall and mental well-being.

How COVID-19 Has Affected Mental Health

A lot of stress and anxiety comes with a global pandemic. Uncertainty, financial pressures, social isolation, misinformation, fear of getting sick, and more can all contribute to that. Surveys during the pandemic show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia compared to surveys before the pandemic, according to Mayo Clinic.

While social distancing is a necessary part of reducing the spread of COVID-19, it can also make you feel isolated and lonely, worsening conditions like depression and anxiety. Globally, major depressive disorder has risen 28%, and anxiety disorders have risen 26%. This translates to 53 million more people with major depressive disorder and 76 million more people with anxiety disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How To Practice Self-Care

Taking time to practice self-care can greatly improve your mental well-being. Self-care is different for everyone and can be different each day. What’s important is finding a balance of activities or stress relievers that work for you.

  • Stay active. Regular physical activity relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. You don’t have to run five miles to feel these benefits—any physical activity like taking a walk, hiking, dancing, or doing yoga can help.
  • Do something creative. When you don’t know how to express your emotions out loud, turning to a creative outlet can give you the chance to express yourself. Things like drawing, writing, painting, cooking, or baking can help you relax and reduce stress.
  • Listen to music. Research shows that music can lift your mood and help you relax. Any way you work with music—singing, creating, learning, or listening—can help improve your mental health by boosting concentration and aiding insomnia.
  • Eat well. Choose a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help nourish your brain. Avoid eating junk food and excess sugar. Limit caffeine as it can increase stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
  • Take a break from the news. It’s good to be informed, but constantly reading or hearing about the pandemic can be overwhelming. Taking a break from social media and your phone, tv, and computer screen can help improve sleep and focus and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
  • Keep in touch with loved ones. Even if you can’t see friends or family in person, staying in contact with them is important. You can call, text, or video chat with them. Having people to talk to about your concerns, how you’re feeling, or your daily life can help you feel less isolated.
  • Focus on the positive. Try not to dwell on how bad you’re feeling, as it can make you feel worse. This is easier said than done but try to focus on the good things you have in your life. Consider starting each day by listing things that you’re thankful for. Maintaining a positive outlook on life can help boost your mood.
  • Ask for help. Hoping mental health problems like anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. Help comes in many forms. Reach out to a friend, family member, or someone you trust to talk about how you’re feeling. For professional help, contact Behavioral Health today.

Frederick Health's Behavioral Health offers crisis management and inpatient and outpatient services including counseling, psychiatric medication management, and case-management services to help you with your individual needs. For more information, visit our website or call 240-566-3900 today.