Mental Health Outlets During A Pandemic

One element of coronavirus that scared me the most was not only being physically sick but also paying the price when it came to mental health. In March, I was sent home from studying abroad in Barcelona abruptly in the middle of the night and was immediately confined to my house with little to no access to the outside world. Coming from someone who struggles with anxiety, this was very challenging to me as it was to many others. I was so used to waking up early in the morning and having days filled with exercise and frequent interaction with others and for that to be restricted was devastating. With therapist offices, doctors’ offices, and other mental health resources closed, many feared the worst for those struggling with mental health.  It was projected that suicide rates would soar due to the forced isolation and added stress of the unknown could push people over the edge. Although the internet offers many outlets for those who are struggling during this time, not everyone has the financial resources to get professional or pharmaceutical help. Here are some ways that you can keep yourself busy and put your mind at ease during these difficult times.

  1. Meditation

Meditation is a simple and fast way to reduce stress and ease anxiety. What I think is so unique and useful about meditation is how anyone can practice it and utilize it in whatever way they want, when they want, to address their issues and find inner peace. During the pandemic, a lot of people are worried and fear what will happen in the future, but meditation can help you to focus on the present rather than trying to figure out what can’t be controlled in the future. This also can help you become more patient and reduce negative emotions. I look to meditation to collect your thoughts and improve your self-awareness. The account “Goodful,” on YouTube has some great videos to follow if you need some guidance when mediating.

  1. Write in a Journal

Writing in a journal helps a lot with anxiety especially if you are overcome with emotions and need to let it all out. Putting all these thoughts together and writing them down in sentences, phrases or even drawings can help you to relieve yourself of this emotional burden. Bottling up these emotions can be critical to your mental health and hurt you more than helping you. Not everyone has a therapist or someone to confide in so a journal can be a useful tool to let go of this baggage.

  1. Yoga

Although I have never personally tried to use Yoga as a stress reliever I know there are an ample amount of videos or demonstrations of Yoga poses or positions that assist people in achieving a Zen state of mind. Yoga pushes your body to relax and control your breathing thus reducing some stress or uneasy thinking. It makes you more aware and in control of your body as well as sharping your attention and concentration.

  1. Exercise

Exercising has always been my go-to outlet for relieving stress or anxiety because it challenges me physically rather than mentally, so it gives my mind a rest. I enjoy running because it’s a simple way to clear my mind and burn some calories. Although there are restrictions on where we can go still in the United States in order to be safe, you can jog in your area, a local park, or even on a treadmill if you have access to one! I prefer jogging rather than lifting or doing workouts because I don’t have to be fully focused on say, what set I’m on or pushing myself to keep going. Jogging is simple, easy and you can go at your own pace.

  1. Listening to music 

Music is a huge outlet for many kids my age to tune out from the world for a little while. Studies have shown that music can fend off depression and lower your levels of stress-related hormones. Besides the fact that listening to good music you enjoy increases your serotonin levels, it even is scientifically proven to be beneficial to you and your mood. Creating music is also a great way to improve your mood and mental health by elevating your motivation and positive thinking.

It can be a really difficult time to be stuck inside with just your family and you can often feel helpless or lonely. But there are so many ways to aid your feelings of depression or anxiety even if you lack the professional help to do so.

If you ever have any thoughts of suicide or self-harm you can visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-8255. “We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals”

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