Will our lives ever go back to normal? Yes, yes they will. This is a very difficult time for most everyone, but the pandemic will end. Vaccines have been created and are being distributed, plans are being made for kids to go back to school, and public restrictions are being lifted again. The last major world pandemic, the Spanish Flu pandemic lasted a little over three years. We are well ahead of that schedule with getting through this pandemic. These are hard times for everyone, but we will get through it. You will get through it. That is the most important thing to realize; that it will end. Reminding yourself of that regularly will help with your mental health as we continue to navigate the current world we live in. Don’t give up. Fear, anger, sadness, worry, and frustration are all common emotions you may feel. There are ways to help regulate these feelings. The list below will give you some coping suggestions on how to keep your mental health stable during this trying time.

Take Breaks from News and Social Media:
-The news you heard yesterday about Covid isn’t much different than what you will hear today. Listening to negativity and sad reports day after day is not healthy. Of course this is going to manifest within your own personal feelings.
-If you really enjoy the news or believe it is important to stay up to date, try to limit yourself to maybe one show per day. More than an hour of depressing and repetitive reports is enough for anyone. The importance of connecting with others is huge, but if social media has counterproductive results, step away.

Take Care of Your Body:
-This is a universal suggestion for most everything, but for good reason. Body health and mind health are very closely interconnected. Feeling good about your body and working toward self-improvement can make huge impacts on your mental wellbeing.
-Diet can also help with this. It’s not just exercise you need, proper nutrition, and sleep is also very helpful. Feeling tired and sluggish, or overly stuffed with greasy foods will not help with your feelings of positive self image. Get some exercise.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol:
-Alcohol and many drugs, including marijuana, are depressants. This means they naturally affect your mood in a typically negative way.
-If you are already feeling stress or fear about the Covid pandemic, don’t multiply your issues by adding drugs or alcohol.

Take Time to Relax:
-You need time for yourself, and not watching eight hours of news all day.
-Even if it’s just laying down for a short catnap. Read a book, sit on your front porch listening to music, go fishing, just take some time for yourself.
-This short act of self-help can go a long way toward your overall mental health.

Talk to Someone:
-This does not mean talking to a professional counselor, but if that is what would be helpful, there is no shame in it. The importance of connecting cannot be understated.
-Men, this goes for you too. It does not make you weak. If anything it shows the internal strength to admit when you need additional support.
-If you are a student, speak to a guidance counselor.
-If neither of these are options you want to pursue, talk to a close friend. Remember they are going through the same experience you are. You may quickly realize you are helping them cope as much as they are helping you. Pick one trusted friend and confide in them. They care about you already, let them show you.

Connect with Your Community or Church:
-This is a tricky one with social distancing and so many churches being closed or limited, but you can still find benefits in these communities.
-Join a group, coach a youth team, be a part of a book or bible club. Anything that will get you up and moving and out of your house.
-There is only so much you have control over. Yes, this pandemic is scary, but if you take the proper precautions you do not have to lock yourself in your home. Just be smart about your decisions.