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How to Support Your Mental Health the Right Way Post-Pandemic

Within the first year, 25% more people began experiencing anxiety and depression worldwide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. Although life has begun going back to “normal,” many of us don’t feel “normal.” Residual stress from years spent worrying about becoming infected and how to navigate socializing safely is to be expected. Take a moment to recognize the traumatic event you experienced and then tread carefully to address what you need to move forward.

There are many ways to support your mental health on a daily basis to help you feel more like yourself again.

Think Through Your Challenges

1. Think Through Your Challenges

If you’re experiencing mental health challenges, you’re not alone. Researchersconducted a study in 2020 where 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition; 30.9% cited symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder and 26.3% cited symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder. As we return to our new normal, many people may need to address the mental health challenges that they experienced during the pandemic. If you start feeling stressed, fearful, or uncomfortable stop and: 

  • Observe: Stop and think about how you are feeling and why you might be feeling that way. When you’re able to recognize what triggers your anxious feelings, you can set your sights on addressing those feelings and preparing for future situations.
  • Try a Grounding Exercise: Make yourself still and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
  • Talk to a Therapist or Doctor: Check-in with your therapist or doctor to discuss your feelings.

2. Be Mindful of Your Feelings

When you’re swirling down a funnel of stress and anxiety, any feelings of calm can feel desperately far away. Practicing mindfulness can help train your mind to acknowledge your worries,  allow you to explore the underlying causes of your stress, and decrease their hold on you. Next time you feel anxious, try these 3 steps:

  • Be Present: Don’t feel like you have to evaluate or analyze the situation, just simply contain it.
  • Breathe: Focus on your breath wherever you notice it; belly, chest or nostrils. Concentrate on your breath going in and out of that space.
  • Observe Your Body: Move your focus to your body as a whole, increasing the space of your experience to your physical being.

3. Exercise

When you participate in physical activities like walking, cycling, or yoga, the body reduces muscle tension and releases hormones that naturally relieve stress. That’s why it feels so good when you’re done! Research shows that aerobic exercise can be especially helpful for those suffering from chronic anxiety.

Additionally, exercising shifts your attention from your anxious thoughts to completing the activity you’re doing. It’s pretty difficult to focus on your anxious thoughts when your yoga teacher is asking you to twist in ways you didn’t realize your body was capable of.

Do Activities that Bring You Joy

4. Do Activities that Bring You Joy

Sometimes it’s the littlest things that bring us the most happiness. Set aside time each day to do something that brings you joy. Try small, easy activities like reading a book, completing a puzzle, listening to music, or walking your dog.

5. Follow a Balanced Diet

You are what you eat! A balanced diet with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and proper water consumption helps support a healthy body, mind, and mood. However, people who eat a diet consisting of large amounts of processed, fried, and sugary foods are more likely to be anxious and depressed.

6. Supportive Supplements

Nutrients like magnesium and vitamin D are known to influence our mood. Studies show that magnesium deficiency may lead to a decrease in dopamine levels, increasing your risk for depression. According to researchers, vitamin D may play an important role in regulating mood. However, magnesium can be difficult to get from your diet alone and vitamin D is primarily received through sunlight.

Smarter Magnesium is formulated from marine-derived sources that are temperature and humidity resistant. AstraGin®, a patented, 100% natural compound, is added to help make magnesium easier for the body to absorb.

Some supplement brands formulate their vitamin D from an animal by-product called sheep lanolin and lack the vitamin K2 you need to direct calcium into your bones and away from your arteries. Smarter Vitamin D3 is formulated from a premium plant source that’s naturally free from contaminants and animal-derived ingredients. Plus, vitamin K2 is added to help support calcium absorption.

7. Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drug Use 

Although many people turn to alcohol and recreational drugs to help them relax, they don’t actually reduce stress, and sometimes they only make it worse.

Get Outside

8. Get Outside

There’s something about the great outdoors that makes you feel alive. In fact, studies show that spending time in nature can help reduce stress. Going outside to prune your garden or taking a walk at a park could help bring on peaceful feelings.

9. Get Enough Sleep 

Poor sleep has been linked to a decrease in positive emotions and an increase in negative emotional responses when confronted with stress. The body uses sleep to  regulate emotions and behaviors on a daily basis. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can make it more difficult to cope with stress and alter the way you perceive the world. Insomnia can be a symptom of mood disorders, like anxiety and depression, and is recognized may contribute to the onset and worsening additional mental health problems.

If you have difficulty sleeping, try implementing healthy sleep habits like keeping a consistent sleep schedule, setting a bedtime and sticking to it, establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, and creating a healthy sleep environment.

Talk to Someone You Trust

10. Talk to Someone You Trust

Having a friend, family member, or support group you can depend on is extremely valuable. A confidant can help you open up and talk about your feelings to help you work through them and understand them better. However, if you continue to experience feelings of anxiety and depression, speak with a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. These services are free and confidential.

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