Low cost ways of practicing self care during the pandemic can include getting out in nature, volunteer work, and educating yourself on mental health as a preventative during times of stress when anxiety is likely. Due to COVID-19, some universities went online and some business either shut down or sent their employees home to work remote. There has been park closures, restaurant/bar closures, bans on gathering in larger groups, city curfews/lockdowns, all contributing to changes in how we are social/stick to a routine. There is no set-in stone, predicted day that our society will go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. It is very important that we take initiatives to take care of our mental and physical health now especially to combat any negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educating yourself on mental health
The CDC recognizes that anxiety, panic, and depression can surface within people living amongst a pandemic. However, this stress really isn’t something to take lightly if you feel it progressing. Loss of appetite, panic attacks, worsening of chronic health issues, or use of depressants like alcohol can be the result of unaddressed, reoccurring stress/anxiety. Not everyone has the privilege to seek out a therapist/psychologist for help. However, there are steps you can take at home to potentially keep anxiety or stress symptoms at bay.
HealthyCats of Texas State University is a peer educator group that specializes in a message to provide health and wellness resources to students on campus. COVID has changed the way many organizations operate so I interviewed the President, Lauren Green, and Vice President Lindsay Bartholomew, to hear about the new ways they provide for Texas State Students. The need for tending to how you feel about the changes you live amongst is important if you are feeling stress during this time.
For more about HealthyCats TXST click here: https://www.healthcenter.txstate.edu/HPS/HealthyCats.html
Learning about various common mental illnesses, such as as anxiety and depression, can be key in understanding your own if you have been diagnosed or even experience symptoms. Self care does not always have to look like facemarks, desserts, or yoga. Self care also does not have to be something you discipline yourself to do, it can become a habit just like anything else can. There are many signs and symptoms of certain conditions like depression and anxiety, they may look different on some people than others as well. Feelings of isolation have accompanied nearly a third of American adults since lockdowns ensued, a symptom of anxiety and depression. If you personally do not suffer from these conditions, for many it is easy to worry about friends or family members who do. Educating yourself on the facts versus fiction of mental health may benefit someone in your life who suffers a mental illness, as well as yourself.
The benefits of volunteering are vast for your community. The benefits of volunteering also vast for the one who decides to volunteer. Getting caught up in a 9-5 job, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, laundry, bills, children’s needs, is a common juggle. For reference, 83% of Americans report work stress. This can lead people to think they don’t have time to do something like volunteer. More than 60% of adults use alcohol to handle their stress once they finally find down time from work. Online retailers of alcohol saw an 162%-578% increase in sales since COVID began. Alcohol use is a symptom of anxiety and depression and can even worsen these illnesses. Since our society has slightly geared towards opening more things up with the implementation of masks and social distancing, there are more opportunities for Americans to relieve stress differently. According to Pew Research Center, 20.5 million Americans became unemployed in May 2020, 3 months into the pandemic, compared to the Great Recession’s two years. Higher rates of unemployment are linked to much higher rates in homelessness. Consider volunteering one day every now and again over sitting in front of the news channel to help you positively benefit your community and even your own mental state. Check out volunteering match websites like this one to check out opportunities at your local food bank, animal shelter, or homeless shelter today.
Getting out in nature
Getting out in nature has many proven benefits for the body and mind. Its also free, and can be more than just a quick little hike. Getting a break from your screens and having a moment to yourself is a low-cost way to practice self care. The river parks in San Marcos have recently opened up, and the CDC recognizes it is much safer to participate in outdoor activities due to COVID not being as easily spread.
Featured below is a map of local parks and natural areas in the San Marcos/Austin area open to the public that you can go to today. Click on the far upper left window icon to preview each park with a description.
Self care does not have to look like home facials and spa days. Whether it is getting out in nature, volunteering, or just learning for yourself about the different mental illnesses that have been sparked within many people since the start of COVID-19, taking care of yourself is vital to adjusting to this new way of living.