We're all doing our best to maintain a positive outlook and a healthy mental state during these unprecedented and difficult times. Pandemic, political unrest, economic uncertainly are the hallmarks of our day. By being proactive in our strategy to protect ourselves mentally, we can thrive despite the challenges we face.
1) Monitor or eliminate your social media use.
Most are well aware of the negative effect social media has on us. It has been blamed as the culprit for an increase of various mental illnesses, declining self-image and at the very worst, rising suicide rates. So why do so many of us expose ourselves to this risk? The Pew Research Center tell us that, "69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media."
If using social media is so risky, why do we continue to use it? We may not be able to articulate why, but we all intuitively know that it is highly addictive. We get a reward the same way an addict gets rewarded for harmful behaviour. So what do we do about it? Limit or eliminate. Exercise self-discipline! The absolute best option is to delete the apps and live a happy life. For those who aren't at that level of enlightenment yet, you must limit your use. We know it's bad, take action now. Have your phone out of your room when you must focus on another task. Set your alarm for three set times, these are the times when you can check your social media. This only works if you commit. Keep a record of your overall wellbeing before you implement these strategies. After two weeks you will find a significant improvement in your well being and overall wellness.
2) Pick a new skill, hobby, or craft and focus fully on it.
Many of us have complained, wishing we had more time to pursue that new thing, but have lacked time to do so. One of the only positives of this worldwide virus is that it has granted us all more time. In the past we were out socializing with friends and family, but now we are confined to our homes.
Use this time wisely, put clear regimented focus into that new pursuit. It could be learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, coding, or working on that side hustle. What is pursued is less important than the effort put toward it. Don't multi-task, or be around distractions. Put all your energy toward one goal. Doing this will greatly increase your mental resilience and improve your brain health. Dr. John N. Morris says, "Embracing a new activity that also forces you to think and learn and requires ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy."
3) Find ways to maintain social relationships
Social relationships are the most affected aspect of all our lives during the pandemic. Social interaction is at the core of the human experience. Dr. Craig Sawchuk, a Mayo Clinic psychologist says, "We are social animals by nature, so we tend to function better when we're in a community and being around others." We strengthen each other and when that part of our lives is taken away, it negatively affects our mental health.
We should make socializing a priority in our lives, while still following the health guidelines. We can utilize modern technology with Zoom coffee dates, online game nights, or physical distanced meet ups. We can call, text, or FaceTime friends we normally grab drinks with. Make socializing and connecting with others a priority and you will be mentally fortified against any obstacle.
This pandemic has created a second pandemic of mental illness and stress. You can protect yourself against this risk by committing right now to these strategies. Rate your overall wellness right now and compare after two weeks of: monitoring or eliminating social media, focusing on a new skill, hobby, or craft, and maintaining social relationships. The improvement will be stark, obvious and clear.