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Managing Your Mental Health At Home: COVID-Safe Strategies for Stress

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Jordanne Haddad

Sum Parts Therapy

A trained and certified Holistic Counsellor, Jordanne provides a stable, supportive, compassionate and judgement-free environment with a client-centred approach.
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Online Health
Aug 23, 2021

Managing Your Mental Health At Home: COVID-Safe Strategies for Stress

Mental Health

It is an ambiguous term, where the concept of mental health is generally accepted as a state of well-being that includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being (About Mental Health, 2021). The state of our mental health impacts the way we think, feel and act. 

Several factors contribute to our mental health, such as biological factors, family history, everyday life experiences, major stress, and significant life changes (About Mental Health, 2021). 

It's safe to say that COVID-19 has contributed significantly to the last three factors! 

Fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to the pandemic (Mental Health and COVID-19, 2021). Faced with the new reality of inconsistency and uncertainty, managing your mental health has become vital more than ever.

Globally, governments have used isolation, quarantines and lockdowns to manage COVID-19. These methods have their risks, including self-isolation and decreased mental health (Diamond, 2020). While these have successfully flattened the curve and contained the virus, it has burdened our mental health and led to increased stress (Cheema et al., 2020).

Stress affects our mental health. Stress is how the brain and body respond to external or internal demand, challenge or threat, and activate the fight or flight responses (AIHW, 2020). 

Coping Strategies for Stress 

As the pandemic continues, a social media post isn't too far away with things and side hustles for you. The hustle culture as a means of being productive during the pandemic can be harmful. Being positive and maintaining good mental health is important. Yet, toxic positivity is toxic for a reason: it contributes to stress. 

Especially during the pandemic, getting through the day is an accomplishment.

Whether solo or with a group of people, isolation, quarantine and lockdowns increase self-isolation, which increases stress (Xie et al., 2020). To manage mental health, strategies must prevent and reduce stress.

Fast Facts: Stress

13% of Australians aged 18 and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress (AIHW, 2020).
In a life-threatening situation, stress prompts your body to prepare you to face a threat or to flee (fight or flight response).
Stress causes physical health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and poor healing (USDH, 2021).
Stress can be managed with exercise, relaxation techniques, speaking to a professional, and staying connected.

Three Stress Strategies for Home 

1. Create a Positive Home Environment with Designated Spaces

Having clear-cut spaces can create better functionality for the home. The more functions of a home, the friendlier the home becomes (Khachaturova & Nartova-Bochaver, 2017). Before the pandemic, there were definite lines drawn between home and everything else. Now, home is everything. 

Organising certain areas for school and work can set adequate boundaries. Using these areas during set school or work hours can make it easier to switch off. 

Functional spaces reduce our levels of stress by helping us switch between work and play while in the same environment. 

2. Exergames as exercise

Exergames are active videogames that mix physical exercise and dance, appearing suitable as nonpharmacological treatments for stress (Viana & de Lira, 2020). Previous studies show Exergames interventions can improve physical activity levels, heart rate, performance in daily activities, oxygen consumption and improvement in behaviour and cognitive function (Viana & de Lira, 2020). 

Examples of Exergames include iDANCE, iSTEP, Ring Fit Adventure, and Jump Rope Challenge. 

While Exergames should not replace physical activity, they are a good alternative for the home during lockdown periods. This alternate exercise encourages cognitive function in participation while being fun and it is beneficial to reducing stress. 

3. Facetime: the new Social

It is important to remain in communication with others. Texting is an effective form of communication. However, it is easy to lie and for context to be lost in translation. We can text when we're doing one or two things, and so our concentration is divided. 

Scheduling a time to do a Facetime call reduces our distraction. It also mimics meeting up with friends.

Taking the time to schedule and participate in social interactions reduces our stress levels (MentalHealth.Net, n.d.). It helps us feel confident about handling our stress and directs our energy outward rather than inward.

Conclusion

Home is where the heart is, and it is also the only consistent during the pandemic. The most important thing is to manage your stress and mental health suitable for your context. As long as you're doing what's best for you, you're doing all that you can. 

We've got this! 

Give these strategies a try if you haven't already! 

If you're unable to cope or manage your stress, it is essential to reach out to your mental health professional or contact a helpline.

References

FAQs About Stress Management During COVID-19

What are the common signs of stress?

Some of the physical symptoms of stress include nausea, headaches, tense muscles, insomnia, frequent infections and lack of energy. Some of the behavioral symptoms and emotional signs that come with stress include irritability, depression, anxiety, overwhelmed, loss of focus, constant worry, poor decision making. Stress effects can negatively damage a person's quality of life, emotional health and relationships

What are the different types of stress?

There are three types of stress which are acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress happens to everyone and it is the body's reaction to a new situation and sometimes enhances your stress response. Episodic acute stress is when you frequently experience acute stress or a worry about things you think might happen and commonly comes from work-related stress. This impacts your physical health and wellbeing more so than acute stress. Chronic stress is when you experience excess stress for an extended period of time.

What are some stress management strategies?

There are many easy-to-adopt stress management strategies to reduce the negative effects of stress in your daily life. This includes deep breathing, regular exercise, a healthy diet, mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Related Topics

From the NTP Practitioners,  COVID-19,  Stress

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