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Improve Your Mental Health — Even During a Pandemic

Staying positive right now may feel nearly impossible. Being hopeful and staying happy can be a true effort during a pandemic that has caused isolation, grief, job loss, and economic stress for many people.

Retirees who live at home are handling the pandemic more easily than other adult age groups who are more affected by job and income worries or keeping kids safe and educated, the Washington Post reported Friday. 

The most stressed people especially need stress-reduction activities. 

“With extra time on our hands and fewer distractions due to restricted activity, we can re-invest our energy in to becoming better versions of ourselves,” says Dr. John P. Vincent, a psychology professor at the University of Houston. 

Vincent says the first challenge is mental — reframing what seems negative into something positive.  

“Rather than focus on what you can’t do, re-focus on what you can do — take on neglected projects, start an exercise program, learn something new, reconnect with friends through social media, start a new hobby.”

Vincent offers three simple ways to feel better, hopeful, and happier and improve mental health at the same time. They are all free.  

1) Establish a routine.

“Even if you are stuck at home, having a routine for your day provides some degree of structure and predictability,” says Vincent.  

“When your sleep schedule is changed by staying up late and sleeping in, the natural sleep cycle is disrupted and can lead to a host of negative physical and psychological effects. Get a good routine and stick to it.”

Are you working from home? Vincent says that breaking your work projects into bite-size chunks can provide a sense of accomplishment in addition to getting a dopamine shot in the reward centers of the brain.   

2) Take chill breaks.  

To keep your positivity, try to use mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation exercises, mediation and other mental tools to give your mind a chill break.

Vicent says this will help to stem any escalations of anxiety-provoking thoughts.  

“Take four or five breaks throughout the day or whenever your brain slips into the catastrophizing mode. Chill breaks let you live in the here and now and redirects your attention away from future worries.”

3) Practice gratitude.  

Make note of the things you are grateful for each day. 

“Your family and friends, your beautiful surroundings, your health, the positive attributes you possess, your accomplishments.  Cherish what you have!” said Vincent.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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