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How to safeguard your mental health during the COVID era

A leading psychotherapist provides advice for those suffering badly from anxiety during the coronavirus era.

A man expressing sadness with his head in his hands. Image by Tellmeimok.
A man expressing sadness with his head in his hands. Image by Tellmeimok.

There are signs that some changes are being made to people’s daily lives and there is a focus with the “new normal”.  However, mental health issues remain with many people.

Healthy and unhealthy habits play a large role in our mental health. However, habits are tough unless we establish an awareness of what we are doing in the first place. That is why before you start something new, evaluate your day from start to finish and find a time of day that makes sense to you to start something new.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world, there remains a level of fear, worry and concern in the population at large. In particular, mental health issues are affecting some groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.

Regular rounds of lockdown, periods of self-isolation after contact with infected people, social distancing, and the fear of contracting the coronavirus when outside the home can trigger a heightened fear and anxiety within people of all ages.

The standard techniques for anxiety can prove challenging, such as trying to focus on the things that can be controlled, such as behaviour and how information is processed. Having someone else to talk to is also very useful.

Dr. Teralyn Sell, a psychotherapist and brain health expert, explains to Digital Journal what the main mental health challenges are and provides some key coping strategies.

With mental health in mind, Sell considers some things we should try to look out for when going through this process of creating a “new normal”. These are:

#1: When starting something new, avoid the pitfalls of perfection

The idea is to do something new more often than not. However, we tend to do the all-or-nothing idea here. If we aren’t perfect, it isn’t worth that sort of thinking. Look to create trends that more often than not, the new habit is completed instead of looking for perfection.

#2: Have realistic expectations of yourself

For instance, if your new goal is to go for a walk every day, think of the time of day that you are at your best and put the walk in there. If you are not a morning person, don’t set your alarm for early dawn to fit it in because you will likely hit the snooze on day 3. Instead, look for the time of day that you could easily fit in the walk and start there instead.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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