Make Mental Health a Priority

By Siew Guan Lee, MS, RD – University of Idaho Extension

We seem to have heard it a million times: Stay Home.

Staying home sounds easy, but the fear and anxiety of being cooped up at home may lead to more stress and intense emotions. As the stay-home order continues, here are some tips to cope with stress and maintain mental well-being during this pandemic:

Limit exposure to news and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be overwhelming and upsetting. Take a break from media coverage and find the positive in daily life.

Engage in other activities you enjoy. Walking the dog, reading a book or starting your garden can help you de-stress. Practice positive stress management activities and avoid using alcohol and drugs. If you do go out, wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Continue regular and healthy routines. Eat meals at regular times rather than skipping meals or eating mindlessly. Share these meals with your family at the table to create a routine for everyone. Participate in regular physical activity or relaxation activities, such as yoga, meditation or simply taking deep breaths. Get plenty of sleep by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day.

Choose healthful food options. Eating nutritious food is especially important to improve your immune system and stay healthy. Try recipes that use only a few ingredients and use what you have on hand. If you need to shop for groceries, plan ahead and make a shopping list to stock up on nutritious ingredients – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy – and minimize multiple trips to the store. Some stores may offer delivery services as another option.

Stay connected with others. Talking with your friends and family members can ease stress and improve the way you feel overall. It also helps build your sense of purpose and belonging.  

Contact your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities and becomes a problem.

Source: Stress and Coping from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

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