It has been a year since WHO (World Health Organization) described, officially, the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic.Thenceforth, our lives have never been the same: quarantine, social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer are now common words in our day-to-day vocabulary.
With this whole new routine, the therapist Patrícia Pires says that people’s mental health has been harmed since the beginning of the pandemic, and that the cases of depression and anxiety increasead worldwide in a meaningful way. “People don’t know how to deal with so many changes that affect them directly”, affirm the psychologist.
So, with that in mind, here are five amazing things suggested by the professional that you can do to take care of your mind and body during these tough times – and if you end up enjoying them, maybe these activities turn into habits!
- Meditating or other breathing exercises
Ok, let’s get real for a second: dealing with problems and trying to balance the aspects of life is something naturally extremely hard, and even worse in a pandemic scenario. That’s when meditation can be an amazing tool.
Meditating is the process of training your mind to align your thoughts and feelings, and it certainly has a bunch of positive impacts: it reduces stress, controls anxiety, promotes emotional health and relaxation – and that’s not even the best part! Meditating can take as long as you want it to, which means that you can easily fit meditation into your daily schedule, creating an amazing habit that will definitely change your life.
And there’s more: Patricia Pires said that “meditation is a way to focus on the present moment, which makes this practice a selfcare habit that can make you feel a lot better during these difficult times.”
If you’ve never heard of meditation, the job is already done: the best guided meditations of 2021, according to the website VeryWell Mind, are:
– Tara Brach (Best Overall)
– Headspace (Best for Beginners) – Available On Netflix
– The Honest Guys (Best for Deep Relaxation)
– Calm (Best for Anxiety and Stress)
– Jason Stephenson (Best for Sleep)
- Moving your body
Regular exercise is already extremely important under normal circumstances, but during the pandemic, physical activities become even more essential: exercising improves sleep, boosts the immune system and reduces stress and anxiety. It also can improve balance, flexibility and strength. Besides that, exercising may be especially efficient for adults and people with chronic health conditions, like heart disease or diabetes.
Specialists recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week (minimum). But remember: exercising doesn’t have to be boring! Dance, martial arts or yoga are some amazing ways for you to workout and, when you’re done, feel all the benefits that exercising brings.
Nowadays, working out at home it’s a lot easier. There are plenty of apps and videos that you can use to workout. To make it even easier for you to get started, the website CNET selected some of the best Youtube channels for that, and here are some of them:
– POPSUGAR Fitness (HIIT workouts)
– Yoga with Adriene (yoga workouts)
– The Fitness Marshall (dance workouts)
– FitnessBlender (5-minute workouts)
But let’s face it: it is extremely hard to get out of bed and workout. It really is. Yet, here are some ways, according to Runtastic, to get some exercise motivation:
– Put your workout clothes on: “don’t think about it, just get dressed”;
– Write down how you feel after your workout – that will motivate your future self to exercise;
– Plan your workout schedule in advance;
– Get yourself a workout buddy/group – you guys will motivate each other, even if it’s online!
And please: do not forget to stretch after you’re working out!
Reading is an amazing way to expand your mind and let yourself live a different story, which is a great alternative considering that a lot of people have been in quarantine since the pandemic started.
Besides that, reading also helps to improve concentration and it can help you destress and give you a better perspective of things – something that we all need in rough times like this.
If you already enjoy reading, then keep going for it! But if you don’t, that’s a great moment for you to introduce this habit, and don’t worry: there are plenty of different genres, authors and titles for you to choose. Ordering books online has been the best “pandemic alternative” readers have found. Yet, another option is to read online newspapers or magazines, just like this one!
- Being In Contact With Nature
The website Positive Psychology developed an article about “The Positive Effects of Nature on Your Mental Well-Being”, and according to it, “staying closer to nature improves physical, mental and spiritual well-being.”
Some of the benefits of doing activities outside, close to nature, are emotional regulation, improvement of memory functions, reduction of stress and development of attention and focus. If you have the opportunity to do that while following the required pandemic protocols, or even without leaving your own house, it will surely be worth it.
“Therapy is a self care and self knowledge method that can never be replaced”, stresses the psychologist Patricia Pires. During these extremely difficult times, people have been staring at their fears, insecurities and traumas, which can be (and it actually is) a lot to take in – and that’s where therapy can be life-changing.
A therapist can help you to learn about your feelings, how to understand them and how to cope. The taboo that the society created among therapy can be hard to break, but remember: there’s nothing wrong with you if you want to go to therapy, everyone should do it.
Hopefully, things around the world will get better and we will get through this pandemic soon. But, until it doesn’t happen, those activities can be extremely helpful and they’re all worth keeping for your whole life!
The article above was edited by Isadora Noronha Pereira.
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