“The New Normal” and Mental Health

It is hard to believe that it has been over eighteen months since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the globe. It has taken us all by storm, and we are still not sure what the long-term effects will be. With the pandemic continuing to be unpredictable and largely uncharted territory, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that we do not know or understand. How exactly has COVID-19 and the new Delta variant affected mental health, and how can we focus on not only healthcare, but also self-care?  

When COVID-19 first hit, the mental health of the general public suffered. The CDC reported that an astounding 40.9% of the US population had anxiety or depressive symptoms because of the pandemic. Despite the year of stress and uncertainty, things seemed to start looking up with the release of the vaccinations. Restrictions were lifted; we started to socialize more when it was safe, we were able to grab coffee with friends and visit with loved ones. It seemed like everything was getting back to pre-COVID normal. 

Now, with the rise of the more contagious Delta variant, people are starting to fear going out again. This extreme emotional switch between optimism and worry was dubbed “pandemic flux syndrome” by the Washington Post. Our tentative freedom was restricted again. Some businesses started to require proof of vaccination in order to enter; offices pushed back to working from home.  

So, what is this doing for mental health? 

This prolonged pandemic stress is leaving people to feel less in control, more aggravated, and depressed. Anxiety symptoms are starting to return to people in full force. However, it’s possible to make it through and come out the other side mentally stronger. Here are some tips for practicing self-care and improving your mental wellbeing: 

Mental Health Means a Moving Body 

We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but it also has a positive impact on your mental well-being. This is called the “runner’s high”. By breaking out into a sweat and pumping some iron, or by sprinting around in circles like you are five years old again, endorphins are released and help improve your mood. Even a little bit of exercise can go a long way. It can be as simple as a short walk or a quick 10-minute stretch. Working out also distracts your mind from worries, boosts your confidence, and helps you cope with stress in a healthy way.

Practice Mindfulness 

 Practicing mindfulness is one of the easiest ways to bring more joy into your daily life. Mindfulness helps you slow down and appreciate what you have around you. Start your days off by meditating on something small like breathing deeply before getting out of bed, or just writing about ten things you are thankful for during the day. It’s easy to get caught up in memories of the past or worry about the future, but mindfulness brings us back to the present moment. 

Eating healthy has a myriad of benefits for both body and mind.

Fuel Your Body to Boost Your Mood 

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help improve your mood and promote cognitive function. A healthy diet includes everything from leafy greens and berries to beans, whole grains, lean protein and, yes, even healthy fats. However, it’s best to avoid processed foods since they are high in refined sugars.  

Our brains and guts are connected- what affects one affects the other. A healthy gut biome leads to improved cognitive function and a lifted mood. Foods and drinks high in both prebiotics and probiotics are great for balancing gut and mental health. This includes onions, kombucha, yogurt, garlic, bananas, and more!  

Connecting with nature helps alleviate stress and encourages a reset of the day.

Get Outside 

Research suggests that exposure to natural environments leads to a decline in anxiety levels. Getting outside means going for a walk, starting a small garden, or just basking in the sun. Spending at least 120 minutes (about 2 hours) outside per week greatly improves mental well-being. If you live in a climate that makes it harder to spend time outside, you can substitute with Vitamin D supplements, or special lighting in your home.  

Start a new hobby 

Maybe baking your own sourdough loaves didn’t last long during the first wave of the pandemic, but finding a new hobby is a great way to cope with stress and even help you find a new community to socialize with online. Painting, photography, listening to music or learning how to play an instrument are all creative hobbies that can help improve mental health and stress coping skills.  

The new Delta variant has left us all feeling unsure about the future, but with some self-care techniques, it’s completely possible for all of us to thrive through this challenge and build our resilience.  

We want to hear from you. What has been your experience with coping with COVID-19 or the new Delta variant? Do any of these suggestions resonate with you? 

You May Also Like

5 Tips for Losing Weight In The New Year

Losing weight isn’t easy. It took time to add up, so give yourself some time to lose it. Make the decision to make some changes. It’s your choice. Here are a five tips to make your weight loss goal attainable. 

Read More

Weight Loss Injections – What Is The Best Injection for Weight Loss? 

You’ve tried everything else... Eating kale and broccoli until you turn green, doing push-ups until your shoulders hurt, running up and down hills until you’re nauseous. Yes… Weight loss isn’t easy. To make matters worse, once you’ve passed a certain body mass index, the work it takes to lose a pound of fat becomes incrementally more difficult. 

Read More

HIV Prevention Starts at Home

HIV is still a major health issue in the United States and around the world. In fact, according to hiv.gov, there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States alone. About 13% of those are unaware they have it and require testing to determine their status.

Read More

5 Ways to Handle Anxiety and Reduce Stress

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. It can be caused by many different things, including stress, genetics, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Anxiety can lead to a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including chest pain, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, and nausea.

Read More

Hyaluronic Acid: The Powerhouse Skincare Ingredient

Hyaluronic Acid is a powerhouse skincare ingredient that plumps and tightens skin, deeply moisturizes, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. It is an ingredient that can be found in facial serums, moisturizers, lip balms, and other cosmetics. While Hyaluronic Acid may seem intimidating to pronounce, the ingredient is not as scary as it sounds- Hyaluronic Acid is naturally occurring.

Read More

Protecting Against COVID-19 and its Variants

In these uncertain times, it has never been more important to stay informed and aware. The rise of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has resurfaced concerns in some over how to stay safe during the continuing pandemic, and we want to help alleviate your fears as much as possible and help you practice healthier hygiene habits.

Read More

6 Ways to Improve Your Mental Wellness All Year

It is more than okay to not be okay sometimes, but we all want to be mentally well and happy. Mental wellness is integral for living a fulfilling life but maintaining it can come with its challenges. And yet, we often neglect our own mental health in favor of other priorities like work, family, relationships, obligations, or friends.

Read More

Talking to Your Partner about ED

A lot of men do not want to talk about their erectile dysfunction (ED), but the truth is that it can affect more than just themselves- their partners are also affected by the condition. The right communication will help avoid any embarrassment and allow room for understanding and support to grow.  

Read More

HIV Today: A Look at the Progress We’ve Made

In the early 1980s, HIV was a death sentence. Today, it is manageable with medication and can be treated as just another chronic disease. With new medical advancements and increased awareness, we have made considerable progress in combating HIV/AIDS since its outbreak 40 years ago.

Read More

The Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

Many women are concerned about the effects that hormonal birth control might have on their health. If you are thinking of starting the pill, or if you have been on the pill for a while, it makes sense that you may have concerns about how long-lasting any side effects might be.

Read More