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Staying Emotionally Strong During the Next Wave of COVID

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistFebruary 03, 2021

What was originally considered a side issue to the COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant problem in its own right: mental health. And with the new variants spreading even faster, many people’s emotional health is likely to give way under the strain of continued restrictions and casualties of this virus. The best way to prevent yourself from succumbing to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other signs of emotional strain is to consciously maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To ensure that you are doing all you can to stay emotionally strong and resilient, consider following these tips:

Maintain a routine. When jobs and schools shifted to working from home, schedules were thrown into chaos -- or at least significantly disrupted. In the absence of our old daily routines, many of us feel like an unmanned sailboat, subject to the winds of the day. The result? They struggle with anxiety, depression, or just being discombobulated.

By contrast, those who find ways to create a routine tend to feel more stable. So though you may resist being disciplined about creating a schedule, it can make getting through your days easier.

Get sufficient sleep. The importance of this simple advice cannot be overemphasized. Without enough rest, you are more likely to struggle in a multitude of ways, such as feeling anxious and depressed, having trouble thinking clearly, being more easily frustrated, and overeating. Your relationships are likely to suffer because navigating them can take more energy than you have.

Eat healthy. Even if you choose a diet of french fries and milkshakes, you already know this. Just remember that eating poorly is like putting bad gas in your car. You may get where you want to go, but your car will probably have difficulty starting up, idle roughly, stall, ping, and be less than efficient.

Exercise. Sitting around all the time can be a disaster for your mental health. If you are cooped up in your house more, it is especially important to exercise.

Get outside. If you have gone “stir crazy” staying in all the time, the best medicine for that is to get outside. If there is nature near you -- a park, some grass, or lake -- you may find that visiting it comforts and soothes your stressed body and soul. (If all else fails, at least look out a window to take in the greater world.)

Pursue meaningful activities. Keeping busy can ward off boredom, a very real struggle for many people. However, a recent study found that staying busy for its own sake can leave you unsettled. Instead, by pursuing meaningful activities, you are likely to feel more satisfied. With this in mind, try to continue activities you enjoyed before COVID restrictions, even if you have to adapt them. For instance, you can use video to have lunch with friends or attend an exercise class.

Arrange for personal time. While you might finally have the opportunity to spend quality time with your spouse, you might also have way more of it than you want. Keep in mind that it is not only OK to need alone time, it is important for your health as an individual and for your relationship. 

Socialize with those inside and outside your home . People generally do best when they feel connected with others. Talking with friends outside your home is by itself good for your mental health, but it can also provide support and distraction to help lessen tensions at home.

By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even with the many stresses of the current world, you can find meaning and happiness in your life.

 

 

 

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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