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Keeping mental health in check during COVID-19

Experiencing problems with mental health are normal and they are more common than most may think.

Maintaining a positive state of mind can be difficult now, more than ever before.

Covid has completely changed the way we live every day. Spending time with friends and family, social outings, going to events etc. are for most people, ways to reduce stress and promote a positive wellbeing. Unfortunately, they are also of the past.

Social distancing can make people feel isolated, lonely and increase feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. For those of us who enjoy spending quality time with others such as going shopping, going out for dinner, playing sports - this new "norm" of not experiencing these things anymore can have negative impacts on our mental health.

Covid has forced us to learn new ways to adapt to this temporary, new life and find other ways to promote a healthy mind. Remember: you live most of your life inside of your head, so make sure its a nice place to be.

These are some things to consider to help maintain happiness during these times that seem rather dark:

1. Cooking and baking

I was never one to spend time cooking or trying out new recipes. As someone who was on the go all the time it was always just easier to grab something quick to eat. Since the pandemic began almost a year ago, we've been conditioned to stay home and told to only leave the house when necessary, which has led to spending more time in the kitchen. I started following various chefs and influencers on social media, testing out different meals from various cultures and have been eating better, spending less money on take out which has helped improve my mental state. I now take pride in what I make and it has become a hobby!

2. Spending time outdoors

Spending more time outside appreciating nature is one of the few available (and legal) activities left for escaping the house. Not only is this simple activity good for our physical health, but it has plenty of benefits for our mental health as well. Studies have proven that simply spending 20-30 minutes on a walk on lunch break provides a welcome relief from stress.

3. Virtual social gatherings

Although they may not be as good as the real thing, spending time on a zoom or FaceTime call with friends and family can help mimic the in-person gathering. During a time where we can't use our vacation time to go on a trip down south or spend time with family half way across the world, taking a couple hours a week to catch up with your loved ones is a great way to fill this void. It works because everyone is still reachable, we can still see each other's beautiful faces, hear each other's laughs, cries and ultimately, be there for one another.

4. Giving back

Giving back to people who are less fortunate has proven to fuel our own happiness and wellbeing. If you are fortunate to be in a good financial state during Covid, consider donating to a local food bank or charity. Not only will your generous donation bring a smile to the less fortunate, it can also improve your own mental state the same way other positive activities do.

Human interaction and connection is something we all are grateful for, cherish and will one day be able to appreciate again. For now, we must do our best to maintain a positive state of mind the best way we can so when you are feeling down, consider a couple of these tips to do so. We are in this together.

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