During a pandemic or any stressful time, it is imperative to guard the well-being of your mental health. Self-care has and always will be more than bath bombs and chocolate. While those luxuries are delightful treats, they do not provide the sustenance that you need to stay afloat. There are a few preparation steps every individual must take before they can fully understand the potential outlets to maintaining a healthy mental outlook.

Here’s the breakdown:

Be honest with yourself.

How bad is it? Are you depressed? Should you talk to a professional? Have an honest conversation with yourself. If it’s difficult to be honest with yourself, consider discussing your mental health situation with a close friend or family member. Then seek out the help of a therapist or counselor. If you’re unable to leave your home or if transportation is an issue, there are many virtual options available to people everywhere.

Be willing to have an open mind.

Some of the self-care tactics are subconsciously brushed off; however, you must be willing to try things before you can conclude that the action didn’t work. The reality is sometimes trying something several times is key. Remember, you’re never going to grow if you’re always comfortable.

Create a schedule.

When you’re in the midst of a pandemic, self-maintenance can get lost in the daily grind. Download a scheduling app or write your schedule down, on a piece of paper. Adhere to the time frames – even if you don’t finish tasks. And remember, it’s important to schedule time to take care of yourself.

Once you’ve got the three-step process down, you’ll have a better mindset and be able to successfully implement self-maintenance. Here are some ways you can take care of your mental health:

Practice a positive attitude.

Here’s a dose of reality. Practicing positivity doesn’t mean you have to be happy all of the time. In actuality, being positive means you’re hopeful for the future. We’re not going to sugar coat it because we know times suck; however, it will get better. The world isn’t coming to an end, but the world is presented with a new obstacle. Your job, during this time, is to approach things with a positive attitude. By recognizing the hope that exists, and will continue to blossom, you’re nurturing your mental health in a positive direction. Having a positive attitude can help others around you.

Get some fresh air.

Nature is powerful. Have you noticed, in many cases, your mood is influenced by the weather? When it’s raining outside, you may feel grumpy and your outlook may feel a bit gloomy. But, when it’s sunny outside you may feel an extra pep in your step – you’re more likely to say yes to things. It’s important to take breaks, throughout the day, and be one with nature. Even if it’s only a walk around the block or sitting on your porch/deck with a cup of coffee. Take the time to breath in some fresh air. When you go back to working or completing a project, you will feel reenergized.

Unplug

Unplugging is crucial, especially when you’re working from home. Whether you’re plugged into working, social media, text message exchanges, and/or the news, unplugging from the noise is important for your mental health. Albert Einstein said it best, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Yes, human beings are wired to be social beings. However, too much of a good thing can be damaging and draining. In order to preserve your mental well-being, take the time to be alone and process your own thoughts – without any background noise. Often times, we’re so bogged down with everyone else’s opinions and we forget to fully understand our own mindset.

Remembering the importance of a routine.

Adhering to a routine allows individuals to foster habits that match their goals and aspirations. Ultimately, our routine helps people to develop good habits that are in line without exploiting a person’s full potential. Routines help us eradicate bad habits that are not serving us well. Northwestern Medicine has conducted studies which revealed a routine can reduce anxiety, promote better sleep, reinforce a healthier diet, and encourage a positive outlook.

You’re probably tired of hearing the term the “new normal”; however, as human beings we’re driven to name things – even uncertain things. Identifying this pandemic or stressful time, as a new normal will provide you with foundation to build a sustainable routine. It’s important to still get dressed every day, cook your meals, clean, work during specific hours, and go to bed at the same time each day. The routine will promote a positive mental health outlook.

Do something for yourself.

Depending on the state of the pandemic or stressful situation, your wants and desires may get lost. Ask yourself; is there something that you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, create pottery goods, become a runner, or plant a garden. This is the time to do all of the things. Always remember, you’re a priority and doing something for yourself isn’t selfish. Recognizing that you are a priority is a healthy way of positively reassuring your mental well-being.

Recognizing that you are important and worthy is important – especially when you’re experiencing a challenging time. Take the time to identify how you can best serve yourself. By understanding your self-worth, you’ll be on a better path to maintaining your mental health during a pandemic or stressful situation. And, remember, you’re not alone! There are other people going through similar hurdles.

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