SURVIVING THE PANDEMIC: Keep your mind fit too!

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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By Barbara High

Tribune Staff Writer

KEYSER - As we reach the year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been staying in place at their homes for quite some time.

Many are working from home, and have severely limited their travel time.

Now more than ever it is important to take care of ourselves and our health. For most, when they hear “health,” they think only of physical health. Yet mental heath is also very important. Experts suggest that our mental health and physical health are closely related, with one affecting the other.

Yet how do we care for our mental health? It is not like we can put our mind on a treadmill, although it may feel at times that it’s on one.

Caring for your mental health can be easy in many ways. Some people find themselves stressed or experience high levels of anxiety during this time of year. All you hear on social media or the news is pandemic talk and turmoil amid elections. Take this opportunity to unplug, as you will, from the stressors. Turn off the television, log out of social media sites. It’s hard to not let the stress get to you if that is all you’re seeing. Too much exposure to the negative is never a good thing, so take a break.

Negative energy tends to attract negative energy. So try and focus on the positives that you see. Although we may find this hard at times, there is always something to be grateful for. A positive mindset is half the battle won.

Make sure to set some time aside to take care of yourself daily. You can meditate, do some deep breathing, or do a facial; as long as you carve out time to make yourself a priority to do things you enjoy.

Some people tend to have a harder time to focus on themselves. Many find that the stress or anxiety is overwhelming. It is harder for the mind to come out of those feelings. There are several coping techniques that you can try to help combat these issues.

Doing controlled breathing exercises is one of the many ways for you to focus and relax the mind and body. Your breath affects your whole body. Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress. Breathing exercises are easy to learn and use. You can do them whenever you want, and you don't need any special tools or equipment to do them.

According to Michigan Medicine, one simple exercise is belly breathing.

Belly breathing

Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

    1.    Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.

    2.    Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

    3.    Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

    4.    Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

    5.    Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

    6.    Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

With anxiety being at an all-time high for many people right now, deep breathing is a great way to to fight it. Most people take short shallow breaths into their lungs. This quick short breathing is a breeding ground for anxiety and panic attacks. Taking deeper breaths into you lungs is a great way to help you relieve some of your anxiety. Taking a deep breath of air into your lungs and exhaling slowly helps to slow the mind and relax the body.

There are several breathing techniques you can try and examples are available online.

Meditation is another way to help relieve stress and anxiety. Meditation is also easy to do and requires no special equipment. It’s an easy to do, even if you have never done it before. To start learning meditation all you have to do is begin with a quiet place.

Sit or lie comfortably, if you sit you can use a pillow to cushion you on the floor. Close your eyes, and breathe naturally. Push all thoughts from your mind, and simply focus on the breaths that you take. If a thought enters your mind, simply push it out. Sit there till you can begin to feel your body relax. There is no set time amount to do. Just simply continue until you feel yourself in control and relaxed.

You can try several different types of meditation and can find guides to help you on many medical sites online.

There are many different coping techniques available and the key is to find the best one for you that works. Some are simple little things that you can do to try and keep your self in a healthy place. Making time for yourself, doing physical exercise, spending time with friends by phone or video chat, laughing as much as possible, reading, or simply doing things you enjoy.

Your mental health is very important and should not be overlooked. Taking care of yourself is not simply about body, but also the soul.

Make sure to do all you can to keep your mental health on the right track during the pandemic, and keep these ideas with you for life for a more relaxed and stress free mind.