Many people are feeling low and depressed as a result of the isolation and uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Mental health has become a big cause for concern these days as people are afraid of contracting the virus and many have also been impacted by the pandemic in other significant ways such as financial or job losses, inability to see loved ones due to movement and travel restrictions, etc. However, it is possible to feel better even if you are having a rough day or week due to the current situation or because of some other problem in your life. Here are some ways you can distract yourself, improve your mood and reduce stress quickly:
- Log off – Get off the internet for some time in order to avoid reading or watching anything negative online.
- Tidy up – Do something with your hands such as organising your wardrobe or tidying up your desk. This will make you feel like you have accomplished something and also take your mind off the things that are bothering you.
- Declutter your virtual space – Delete unnecessary apps and messages from your phone, send old emails to the trash can and/or organise documents on your laptop. This will help you mentally clear out space for new things and experiences in life.
- Look at photos – Go through old photo albums to remind yourself of happier times in your life.
- Take a day off – If you are working but feeling overwhelmed and need a break, take a day off and indulge in activities, such as pedicures or warm baths, that will help soothe you.
- Cry – Tears can help reduce pain and release oxytocin and endorphins. So let it all out. Watch a tear jerking, sad movie, if it doesn’t happen naturally.
- Cook – You can prepare a nice meal for yourself and your family. Try out a new recipe or bake small treats but be careful not to indulge in emotional overeating as it can make you feel worse.
- Be healthy – To get a break from overthinking, do any exercise or workout that you like. You can do simple yoga postures in your room or head to the gym for a run on the treadmill. Also try to consume foods that are nutritious and help you feel refreshed such as fruits.
- Visualise – Close your eyes and think about past moments when you experienced joy and try to relive them. Alternatively, you can use visualisation techniques to imagine a future where you are at peace and in your happy place. You can even create a vision board with pictures that depict your dream life and make you feel hopeful.
- Read – You can pick up your favourite book to re-read or read something that is light and humorous.
- Watch happy stuff – Avoid binge-watching but you can look at funny videos or watch a feel-good movie, such as a classic romcom, which will lift your spirits up.
- Be creative – You can work on a creative project and express your emotions through drawing, painting, writing, etc.
- Call a friend – Call someone who is usually positive and optimistic, and share what you are going through. Alternatively, you can stick to lighter subjects or discuss shared interests to divert your mind.
- Smile – Practise smiling in front of a mirror even if you don’t feel like it. Pretend it’s a great day. You can also speak in front of the mirror, as if you are giving a speech, and remind yourself all the things you are grateful for in life.
- Do something nice – Shift the focus to other people and try helping someone out with some work or do something nice, such as baking cupcakes for your neighbour’s kids.
In the case of severe anxiety or stress, immediately reach out to a loved one or a mental health practitioner and look at other helpful resources available online.