Tips to protect your mental health | New
The pandemic and resulting economic downturn over the past two years has created an environment that makes people feel lonely, though most have regained full dialogue with the public. Fear of contracting disease and rising prices of basic necessities have driven people to stay home more than to keep in touch with friends and family.
People already prone to depression or in recovery from substance abuse are at higher risk of engaging in risky behaviors or contemplating suicide under these conditions. The lack of personal interaction and physical contact compounds the effects, making difficult circumstances seem impossible. Limited access to mental health care and the stigma around seeking help make it more important than ever to be vigilant about maintaining mental well-being.
Pandemic fatigue is the term used to describe this mental health problem, which affects a staggering number of people. The World Health Organization defines this as a natural response to a protracted public health crisis with unprecedented impacts on everyone’s daily life, including those who have not been directly affected by the virus itself. Their report also cites a demotivation to follow recommended protective behaviors.
Before Covid, 11% of the population reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. At the height of the pandemic, that number rose to 40%. As of June this year, mental health professionals estimate that 33% are still suffering. Other areas where demand has increased include obsessive-compulsive disorders and sleep-wake disorders, as well as substance abuse issues.
According to psychiatrist Jessica A. Gold, continuous fatigue is a typical reaction to prolonged stress. In the world of psychology, the General Adaptation Syndrome is described as the point beyond a body’s natural fight or flight tendency during a crisis. Guilt over not doing more or feeling normal is common and leads to further distress.
Frontline workers, mental health practitioners and parents have lived in survival mode for so long that there hasn’t been enough time to address mental wellness. Grief and untreated trauma have led to extreme anxiety and depression in many adults, creating even more fatigue.
Over time, this results in feelings of uncertainty about the future, difficulty concentrating, and unexplained anger over relatively small things.
In an article about post-pandemic fatigue, Dr. Asim Shah identifies the three dimensions of burnout: exhaustion, increased mental distance, and negative or cynical feeling.
He recommends several ways to combat burnout and stress. Exercising and sleeping well, learning to express emotions and making time to explore nature are high on Shah’s list. Maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in activities with others, and doing things that bring joy are also on the list of guidelines.
While many are still trying to catch up and connect with loved ones, setting boundaries and limiting social interactions can be very helpful to allow time for decompression and more rest. Limiting social media and social media news can help reduce information overload and negative thoughts. Reading books and other calming hobbies like drawing, painting, weaving, and crocheting can help reduce stress and create a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Practicing gratitude is also widely prescribed to maintain a positive attitude.
Whenever a disappointment occurs, the simple act of writing down something to be grateful for can help redirect attention to the positive. Taking the time to assess physical and emotional feelings is part of the recommended arsenal for maintaining a sense of well-being. Acting on hunger and the need for sleep and quiet time is a practice that should be cultivated rather than ignored.
Talking to friends or family members who offer good advice or bring a sense of calm is extremely important, especially for those who are prone to isolation. Regular checks can help determine if problems are trivial and have a practical solution or something that needs to be fixed by professional help.
Good music can also be highly therapeutic. According to the American Psychological Association, new studies have shown that music can increase immune function and reduce stress levels. Singing, playing musical instruments, and writing songs have become documented ways to improve mental health and even reduce physical pain in terminally ill patients and those with neurological disorders.
Classical music has been proven to lower blood pressure and increase serotonin levels, but primarily for those who actually enjoy the genre. Music that makes you feel good is what works. Certain frequencies, from Delta and Theta to Beta and Gamma, can produce positive reactions in the body, ranging from deep relaxation to focus and clarity. Sound healing through the use of singing bowls, tuning forks, or gongs can create vibrations that have a powerful effect on the mind and body. The vibrations can help align the two to work better together.
Binaural beats are the combination of two different frequencies that the brain perceives as a single tone. As the brain adapts to the tone, a state of mind can be achieved that promotes feelings of relaxation as well as creativity, focus, and clarity. Due to its potentially profound effects, adults with heart conditions or epilepsy are advised to exercise caution and consult their doctor before using binaural beats as therapy.
To learn more about how music affects the body, Dr. Richard Gerber’s book “Vibrational Medicine” explains how musical frequencies can be used to balance physical and emotional energy in those suffering from anxiety and depression. . For those new to frequency-specific music, search for 432Hz, 528Hz, and 852Hz on Youtube or Spotify.
For those who prefer more directional advice, “Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle” from Brenee Brown’s “Unlocking Us” podcast with Amelia and Emily Nagoski is a discussion of the causes of burnout and how to get through it. emotional exhaustion. find it on breneebrown.com or on Spotify. For more podcasts on dealing with mental health issues, find 16 Best Mental Health Podcasts at www.womenshealthmag.com/.