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If your mental health has taken a hit during the pandemic, these tips can help.

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When it comes to feeling good, your mental health is as important as your physical health. If one or the other isn’t at its best, it effects your overall well-being. As we have focused on ways to stay physically healthier during the last year – primarily by trying to avoid COVID-19 – we’ve also found it difficult to keep our mental health in check.

Concerns about the virus, job losses, school disruptions and changes to almost every aspect of our routines have caused many people to feel stressed, anxious or depressed. People who were already experiencing mental health issues may have found their condition worsened during the pandemic. Those who never experienced poor mental health also found themselves struggling.

Even as our days approach some sense of normalcy, our mental health may not bounce back so easily. Many stressors caused by the pandemic still exist. Returning to pre-pandemic activities may be as concerning as it is exciting. And our mental health is influenced by other factors that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

It’s important to take care of your mental health in much the same way as you would your physical health. You likely already know that eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, reducing stress and going to the doctor regularly can improve your physical health. These things can boost your mental health, too. The 5 tips below can also help you learn to make your mental health a priority:

    1. Find time for yourself. You may not feel like you have much “me” time these days, especially if everyone is still working from home or going to school remotely. But finding even a few minutes a day where you focus just on you can be a big boost to your mental health. Take a walk, close your eyes or call a friend – whatever makes you happy.
    2. Be kind to yourself. We tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and that sets us up for disappointment. So instead of being annoyed that something didn’t get done or you didn’t reach a particular goal, cut yourself some slack and realize you’re only human. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to others.
    3. Splurge on yourself. You know how there are certain things you only do during vacation or on a special occasion? Stop waiting for the perfect moment to do the things you love. Do things that bring you joy every day. It doesn’t have to be extravagant but it should feel special.
    4. Stay connected. Throughout the pandemic, it has been more difficult than usual to maintain social connections. But feeling connected matters. It’s especially important to have someone to talk to when you feel stressed, sad or angry. Whether you simply unload your emotions or ask for advice, talking things out often helps you feel better.
    5. Take a mental health day. If you’re like many people, you may not be taking much of a “real” vacation these days. But even if you can’t plan a trip to an interesting or exotic locale, it’s important to take an occasional day off from your usual routine to relax, unwind and recharge.

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Date Last Reviewed: March 17, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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