The Covid-19 global pandemic will go down in history as one of the most devastating, both physically and mentally. Learning a new reality is challenging as your daily life is altered with social distancing, masks, and constant stressors to the invisible threat lurking nearby. The financial stress from job loss is devastating. Still, strong people adapted.
Is it any wonder that people are anxious, depressed, and dealing with a myriad of mental health issues? This isn’t the first crisis in American history, but it will be one that will be remembered for the lives lost and financial devastation it’s caused. Other horrific events include the 9-11 terrorist attacks or the SARS outbreak.
Americans learn to cope and move on, but a great deal of how you respond to a crisis comes from your core strength. A mentally strong person can handle these adverse experiences better than someone who isn’t as resilient. It’s possible to come out of this nightmare with post-traumatic growth rather than post-traumatic stress.
If you’ve never heard the term post-traumatic growth, you are not alone. When you go through a stressful experience, you make positive psychological changes rather than negative ones. You have the power within you to rise to a higher level of functioning, even though the world is in the middle of a major crisis.
Things Strong People Do to Protect Their Mental Health
When this pandemic ends, and it will, you can be stronger than you were before it started. However, your actions dictate how you will be on the other side. If you want to ensure that you are mentally unscathed, then here are some proven things strong people do to avoid long term mental health issues.
1. They Learn How to Control Their Emotions
If you find yourself a little sad and weepy at times during this pandemic, then you should know that you’re not alone. A healthy person doesn’t avoid their emotional self. Rather, they learn how to keep it in control. According to Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT therapy, you have three states of mind, and they are:
•Emotional – This is the location where your emotional declarations govern.
•Rational – Both logic and facts abound here.
•Logical- Here, you take a blend of your emotional and rational mind to develop a reasonable opinion.
When you learn how to reel in your emotions and use a rational mind to govern them, you can dwell in logic. Your feelings are all over the place, especially in a pandemic. Your emotional mind may tell you that you’re going to be one of those who die from the coronavirus, but your rational mind steps in to give you the statistics you learned.
More people recover than perish, so you learn to be logical about your emotions. It’s easy to engage in catastrophizing behaviors, but you must learn to use logic to keep your sanity.
2. They Don’t Beat Themselves Up Over A Loss of Concentration
It’s challenging to be productive when the entire world is in chaos. While working at home may seem like a better way to get more done, many people find it quite challenging. It’s normal to have concentration issues and to feel completely overwhelmed with homeschooling and your new role.
When your safety is threatened, you must realize that you’re doing the best you can to survive. Practice self-care to help cleanse the body and mind, and don’t be so hard on yourself. If you cannot focus or concentrate on a particular day, then take the day off.
Strong people accept their flaws and realize when they’re at their breaking point. It’s okay not to be okay, and you can give yourself time to deflect from the stressors around you.
3. They Understand That What They’re Feeling Is Normal
Embrace your feelings, and don’t try to bury them where they will fester. If you want to be resilient, you must know that anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety are part of such a challenging event. There will be things that take you days to process because it’s so overwhelming to take it all in at once.
In 2013, Adjustment Disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual as a mental illness. Whenever you go through a major life stressor, even within the previous 90 days, it can cause you great mental distress as you try to process and cope. Anyone going through this pandemic is in jeopardy of suffering from this mental strain.
The changes in society, such as homeschooling children, working from home, job loss, and the death of friends and loved ones, have taken their toll. The key is to accept what you’re feeling, process those feelings, and move on. Don’t ruminate and become mentally overwhelmed.
4. They Choose Carefully Who They Follow
Strong people avoid negative people and are careful about who they follow. When it comes to fact-based data, don’t rely on social media. Avoid those who challenge public health efforts to handle the global pandemic.
Not only is it unhealthy to watch people banter about things that officials are doing to help you, but it’s psychologically harmful to hear something that may or may not be relevant. To get fact-based data, listen to officials such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control.
Mentally strong people will understand that you can’t believe everything you read or hear on television, social media, or the radio. When you use trusted new sources, you can cut down on false reports and the mental strain caused by inaccurate information.
5. They Learn to Meditate
Meditation has a vast number of benefits as it helps to release negativity from the body. People who regularly meditate can return to a calm state even during the most stressful conditions.
Meditation is proven to reduce stress levels, anxiety, help with depression, and enhance your overall emotional health. Some say that it helps to improve concentration and bring them back to a healthy baseline.
One of the best ways that a strong person protects themselves during a pandemic is to avoid how much news they consume. Have you ever heard of compassion fatigue? Nothing is uplifting on the news these days, and when you ingest all that negativity, it adversely affects you.
When you hear one devastating report after another, it can put your body in a state of traumatic stress. Your body will release cortisol and adrenaline to put you into fight or flight mode. It’s common to utilize doomscrolling to get the current events, but you only need to know what affects you.
If you limit your exposure and choose reliable media, you can encourage mental stability.
7. They Avoid Negative People
Easy ways to avoid negative people include turning off the news and stop doomscrolling on social media. Although, what about the people you encounter every day? While you must accept their flaws, you don’t have to listen to or engage in their toxic behaviors.
Avoid those that lie, gossip, and are self-centered as it can take a toll on your mental health.
8. They Focus on Self-Care
Strong people know that to make it through such a devastating pandemic, they need to take care of themselves. Ways to reduce exposure are essential, such as getting plenty of exercises, eating right, sleeping the recommended amounts, and connecting on zoom with family and friends.
While the pandemic has put much distance between you and those you love, you can still connect on zoom for the social interaction you need. Since so many gyms have closed, why not do a workout over the internet with some friends? Exercise helps to keep your positive energy flowing and can help build your immunity.
9. They Know Themselves and What They Need
Strong people know what they need to make it. If they are introverted, then they prefer smaller groups anyway as larger ones exhaust them. They find that being alone charges them.
The extrovert needs other people and activities to feel mentally strong. They will use ways to connect virtually and keep their social life strong no matter what’s going on. Part of being healthy is knowing what you need and getting it regardless of new restrictions and mandates.
10. They Respect Other People
A healthy person learns that you never know what another person is going through, so you must always be kind. You didn’t realize that the grumpy worker at the drive-thru this morning just got bad news about a loved one. She probably didn’t even feel like being at work, but she had bills to pay.
The man that took your parking spot at the mall was in a hurry and didn’t even see you. You didn’t know he was there to get his wife a soft robe. See, she’s in the hospital fighting for her life from Covid-19. The strongest respect other people because they realize that what you see or hear on the outside is usually a reflection of what’s going on inside.
Living through a pandemic takes a lot of strength. There will be good days, and there will be bad days, but you must practice self-care to ensure that you stay mentally intact. Find your support among positive people, and remember that it’s okay not to be okay.
A strong person can make it through a horrific situation and have post-traumatic growth rather than post-traumatic stress. The choice is up to you.