Five Ways to Make Time for Your Mental Health During COVID-19
By Helena Nikitopoulos
A Western University student with anxiety shares her advice pertaining to the ways one can make time for their mental health during these difficult times.
1. Have more of what I like to call “break days”.
When you start to feel tired, moody, or de-motivated, tell yourself that you will resume with your tasks and stressful thoughts the following day. With your never-ending thoughts out of the way, focus on what makes you feel the best. Eat ice cream, go for a walk, or watch Netflix for as many hours as you need to feel better. This will all help you recharge and prepare yourself for the next day. Wake up that morning and say to yourself, “today, I am doing whatever will make me feel better”.
2. A daily task is only a “chore” if you label it as such.
Those textbooks you need to get for school? Your dog that needs walking? That new phone charger you need to order off of Amazon? All of these things may seem like a “chore” or a tedious task, but it only earns that title if you label it as such. Try to turn these little tasks into positive events that you look forward to. For example, walking your dog can be a great way to get some fresh out and have time to yourself to think or to distract yourself from whatever has been on your mind lately. Buying textbooks for school can remind you of the exciting year you will soon experience whether that means reuniting with friends or having the ability to learn new things. Something becomes negative only when you give it that power – so don’t.
3. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and anxieties.
A journal or diary can feel like a safe space for you and your thoughts only. Write out how you feel every morning and try to come up with some ideas on how you can better your mood even more. After you’ve written down a list, start checking off the activities you completed throughout the day. Whether it was that afternoon walk, when you baked a delicious chocolate fudge cake, spent time with friends and family, or watched a funny video that made you smile (Funny Fail Complications on YouTube never fails to make me laugh).
4. Watch and observe nature for hours….
The turquois water in your pool glimmering in the sunlight, the leaves of the trees above you dancing in the breeze, and the delicate motions of a snow-coloured butterfly moving its’ wings. All of these beautiful aspects of nature are both satisfying and peaceful to watch. When you start to feel your anxiety levels rising and your heart beating rapidly in your chest, go for a walk or sit down in your garden and observe. This not only distracts you from your busy thoughts but re-centers you in the “now”. Many of your thoughts will slowly start to dissipate and every fear you may have had will no longer seem so life threatening. Just focus on the butterfly whose soft wings repeat the same motions over and over again and I can assure you that you won’t have anything to stress about anymore.
5. Seek out a friend or family member to vent to.
It is true that those we love and feel a deep connection to have the ability to make us feel better in our most difficult moments. When you’re feeling down, seek out someone you love and trust because it is these special people in our lives who understand our pain the most. Those tears we shelter from the world and those thoughts we keep deep inside of us always must come out one way or another and by talking to someone, it will grant us an instant feeling of release.