During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that certain groups, such as people working in health and other services, students, people living alone and people with pre-existing mental health conditions, have were particularly affected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact because, among other consequences, it has revealed that anyone can be vulnerable and is likely to experience a mental health problem during their lifetime. This is why good prevention is essential.
Prevention and mental health care
1. Physical exercise
Regular physical exercise has beneficial effects on mental health, as it helps improve mood. If this activity is practiced indoors, it is recommended to combine it with an outdoor activity such as walking or cycling.
A balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients helps maintain good mental health. Sugars, alcohol and caffeine should be avoided as they can aggravate emotional health issues.
3. Sleep hygiene
Getting enough rest is vital for mental health. Sleeping around 7-8 hours a day and being very regular in your sleep routine directly contributes to your emotional well-being. When we take the time needed for quality rest, we give the body and mind time to suspend the activity and emotions of the day.
Incorporating one or more pleasurable activities into our daily lives is a positive way to provide us with moments of pleasure and relaxation. Focusing your attention on reading, dancing, playing an instrument, writing, painting, cooking or learning something new that is stimulating is a way to take care of your mental health while having fun.
Staying connected with other people and having conversations can help keep our thinking skills in good shape and reduce cognitive decline as we age. But also, sharing one’s experiences, giving one’s point of view and listening to that of others, improves the mood.
Trying to stay calm and giving yourself moments of relaxation, trying to reduce everything that generates stress in our life, helps to maintain mental calm. There are relaxation techniques through exercise, breathing or mindfulness, among others, that can help us deal with daily stress.
It is useful and interesting to set daily goals, which, in the medium and long term, can be achieved. It’s also helpful to prioritize what you want to achieve with these goals. These goals must be a stimulus that arouses desire and interest, never a source of pressure that causes stress, as this would be counterproductive.
8. Identify emotions
Stopping, paying attention to what we are feeling, asking ourselves the question “how do I feel right now” and trying to put a name to this feeling, allows us to recognize our emotions. Doing this exercise helps us to know ourselves better, to be able to express our feelings and, therefore, to coexist better with the people around us.
9. Accept and validate
Once we have identified what we are feeling, the next step is to accept it, even if we don’t feel well. This is an important step in learning to manage our emotions. It is also important to be aware that there are no good or bad emotions per se, but that they are part of a process and represent warning signs that we must pay attention to.
10. Support network
In situations where we feel vulnerable, having a safe network around us who can listen to us can be a big help. Spaces where we can freely express our feelings. Because expressing emotions is very beneficial for mental health and does not always have to be verbal: crying with someone or giving a hug is also a form of expression.
11. The limits of technology
Technology is a double-edged sword and we need to figure out how much it helps us and when it negatively affects our mental health. Digital hyperconnection has harmful consequences such as mental blockage, which prevents us from enjoying our personal life and can lead to self-esteem issues.
12. Ask for help
As we said before, there are no good or bad emotions per se, but when they persist for a long time, they can affect our quality of life and even cause serious mental health problems. There are complicated stages in which it is necessary to seek help from professionals who can help us identify and manage our emotions.