Our View: Take steps for maintaining mental health during COVID

From a survey done by the CDC, 40.9 percent of 5,470 respondents during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition during this COVID pandemic, including those who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9 percent), those with TSRD symptoms related to COVID-19 (26.3 percent), those who reported increasing or starting substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3 percent) and those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days (10.7 percent). 

During this time of focus for maintaining our health, we must also emphasize keeping our mental health strong. Five ways you can deal with stress right now include taking care of your body; taking time to unwind; sleeping; taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories; and talking to others. 

First, take care of your body. Stress can cause healthy people to be more vulnerable to sickness, as it weakens the immune system. You can take deep breaths, stretch or meditate if that’s what can calm you. A study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine found that with meditation programs, anxiety levels dropped significantly in three to six months. Other ways of doing this is eating healthy, balanced meals; getting plenty of sleep; and exercising. 

A second main way to stay mentally healthy is to take time to unwind. Relax. Don’t spend every minute of every day working, and even if it is just five minutes, take time for yourself. 

Thirdly, sleep. Whether or not you get enough sleep can impact stress a lot. One study examined how teenagers reacted during the day when they didn’t get enough sleep at night, as compared to older adolescents and adults do. Scientists found that sleep-deprived teens found stressful situations much more threatening, compared to older adolescents and adults.

A fourth way is to take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories. If you find what is being said online distressing or overwhelming, an easy way to cut out that stress is by staying away from it. 

The final way you can help deal with stress is by talking to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a friend, parent, counselor, doctor or pastor. Talking face to face with another person releases hormones that reduce stress. Lean on those good listeners and friends in your life.


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