“I believe depression is legitimate.  But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.”  Jim Carrey

Our new reality often consists of negativity, uncertainty and isolation as a direct result of the coronavirus. With everyones’ lives being turned upside down, maintaining positive mental health is crucial however difficult.  I’m no life coach, however here are a few tips I have found helpful in coping and maintaining positive mental health.   

  1. Exercise 

We know exercise is essential for physical health for many reasons.   But did you know exercise is just as beneficial for mental health purposes?  Spoiler alert, exercise naturally elevates mood by releasing dopamine and endorphins into your brain!  This results in happiness, relaxation and decreased anxiety and stress.  

Don’t pick a workout geared toward Olympians. Choose something that is both semi-enjoyable to you and just the right amount of challenging.  Personally, I loathe running. Luckily, there are many different types of cardio and other forms of exercise to choose from.  

There are lots of freebies on YouTube, Amazon Prime, etc. that don’t require expensive or any equipment to complete.  They range from ten minutes to an hour, and every little bit helps. Still not your speed? Weather is getting nicer and we’re allowed to be outside as long as we keep social distance.  Go bike, dance, walk, jog, or whatever pleasurable in order to get your heartrate going.  

2)  Keep in contact/continue to put positive energy into the universe

The discouraging of social gatherings and seeing family/friends has been one of the toughest things for people, myself included.  Use technology: call, text, social media, FaceTime, Skype, or whatever you have to stay in touch. Every day I reach out to at least one person to check in.  Prior to coronavirus, I wasn’t a huge fan of talking on the phone. These days, it has been great for the purposes of supporting one another and just to simply hear the voice of a loved one.  I also never used to be a big social media fan. However, I’ve found making a goofy social media post goes a long way to make life more lighthearted.  

Another area of struggle for many is trying to help others and spread acts of kindness while being ordered to stay at home.  In my situation, I’m unemployed, therefore unable to help people financially, and am not gifted enough in sewing to assist with making homemade masks for healthcare workers.  However, staying home is the most helpful!  

Whenever you do have to run essential errands, continue to spread kindness with gestures, friendly words and common courtesy.  Just because we are required to maintain distance doesn’t mean we can’t provide friendly greetings or even warm body language. This is also a simple way to express gratitude to essential workers.

3)  Make at least one goal for yourself everyday/engage in activities of comfort and peace

This varies from person to person, however is a huge deal.  My goals have ranged from getting out of bed and taking a shower to cleaning an area of my house.  Whatever it may be, even the smallest of goals give us meaning and purpose. While being productive and knocking things off a list feels great, it’s not always realistic depending on our mindset each day.   Whether we like it or not, we’re all grieving in a sense during this pandemic. Setting goals is a healthy way to cope and strengthen ourselves daily. PS: It’s OK if you don’t get all your spring cleaning done or haven’t recorded the album you were hoping to.  You’re doing great just by surviving!

Peaceful and comfortable activities can include anything from participating in favorite hobbies, listening to music, cuddling with pets, reaching your spiritual and/or religious side, etc.   Whatever it takes to get you through the day, keep busy and stay refreshed.

4)  Don’t leave the news on 24/7

I know we all want to stay informed and we all should, especially with new and continuously changing details surrounding the coronavirus.  However, closely listening to the news all day is toxic.  Unfortunately, much of the news is negative and you’re not doing yourself a favor in immersing yourself in it constantly.  All it amounts to is increased stress, anxiety, and possible absorbing and passing of misinformation. This also applies to social media.  Postings of misinformation and panic have a tendency to get spread around, so for your sanity’s sake don’t spend several hours going down a rabbithole of reading doom and gloom.  

5)  Continue to find humor

Not to sound cliched, but laughter really is the best medicine.  Keep the goof strong! This is my number one coping mechanism.

Remember, it’s perfectly normal to not always be strong. Stress is inevitable. Cry or do whatever you need to do to survive.  We will get through this.