There is no denying that the last few years have been challenging for all of us. The global pandemic has fundamentally altered how we engage and communicate with one another. Some people have lost their jobs. Businesses have declared bankruptcy. And, of course, many millions of people have lost their lives.
With so much uncertainty in our world, it’s no surprise that stress, anxiety, and depression are on the rise. Unfortunately, this is because the COVID-19 pandemic has created a situation where many determinants of poor mental health have been exacerbated, such as people being confined indoors isolated from their friends and family.
In fact, the World Health Organization reported that the pandemic caused a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, which is now being referred to as “pandemic blues.”
If you are battling with these feelings, you will be pleased to know that there are some steps you can take to get back on track and feeling like your old self again. We’ll give you five simple tips that you can try out for yourself in this article, and we’ve made sure that you can apply them all remotely (without leaving your home). This is because we know that many people are still hunkered down and shielding themselves from the virus. On that note, let’s get started.
Talking openly about your feelings is a vital aspect of overcoming them. If you harbor these feelings inside and don’t let them out, they often become much worse than what theta actually are and can lead you down into a vicious cycle. The good news is that talking with someone openly actually validates your experiences and can make you feel less alone. It also signals to other people that you may need some help, who then may be able to help you find more support. As they say, “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of different ways you can get support and talk to people these days. If you have friends and family who listen to you, don’t be afraid to give them a call. However, if that isn’t an option, then there are plenty of online therapy services that offer support to those who require it.
Surprisingly, playing games is one of the most effective ways to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. This is because they take your mind away from the thing that is stressing you and focus your attention on the task at hand. This may sound trivial, but the effects can be quite profound. For example, taking some time to play free, online solitaire can increase dopamine production in your brain, which can help improve mood, decrease stress, and even lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Solving jigsaw puzzles, completing crosswords, and engaging in other cognitively stimulating games have also been reported to offer a wide variety of brain-boosting benefits, including staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Many people look towards cooking as if it were a chore, and that’s a shame. In actual fact, cooking can be a very rewarding experience if you simply switch your perspective and take the time to enjoy it. The process of measuring, stirring, and monitoring your food as it cooks requires your undivided attention, which is especially helpful for those dealing with the pandemic blues. Furthermore, cooking fits in with a type of therapy known as “behavioral activation.” This is the practice of treating depression and anxiety by focusing on the positive rewards that hard work and effort produces, such as when you knock out a tasty meal from scratch.
Learning a second language is another great way to reduce stress. This ties in well with the previous point, since learning a language definitely stimulates the “behavioral activation” process. On top of this, studies have shown that those who learn a second language and eventually become bilingual are reported to have higher self-esteem and improved confidence.
Try out meditation
Meditation and spiritual health practices such as quantum healing have become increasingly popular over the past few years. As mental health rates skyrocket with people locked down in their homes, many people have turned to these practices in order to regain a sense of calm and serenity within themselves. While this may seem far-fetched are almost like pseudoscience to some people, there have been hundreds of studies that confirm the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices, especially when it comes to stress and anxiety. For example, this study found meditation to be an effective way to combat stress, while this eight-week study found that meditation reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress.
Using these five tips, you will have some handy tools at your disposal that you can use at any time to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Whether the pandemic has brought on these feelings, or if you’re simply feeling overwhelmed with the challenges that life is throwing your way, try to remember to carve some time out for yourself, so you can relax and bring yourself back to a calm state. Sometimes, talking to a friend, playing a game, or taking ten minutes to practice meditation is all it takes to ease your mind and turn the tide against feelings of stress.