Maintaining good mental health is essential

By John Lough
American Counseling Association

The last few months have left many of us feeling shaken. Life can be more difficult and hard to manage when we are so strongly affected by things far outside our area of control. But one of the secrets to getting through difficult times is to focus more heavily on those areas of our lives which we can control.

A starting point is your physical health. While that certainly means doing all you can to minimize your exposure to the COVID-19 virus, it also means working to keep yourself in the best physical condition possible.

Regular physical exercise, as we all know, is important regardless of a major health crisis. But with today’s worldwide health problems, it’s vital to do all you can to help your body face any threats it may encounter. Although your local gym or YMCA may have had to close, this isn’t an excuse to become a sloth. Want a home workout? Check the literally thousands of online videos offering exercise advice and workout sessions for people in all types of physical condition.

If workout videos aren’t to your liking, simple activities like daily walks not only help improve physical fitness, but also mental fitness.

The long-term isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic can take a very real mental toll. We have less contact with others, we find ourselves bored and it certainly can be a factor in aggravating mental health issues, especially depression.

Improving your mental fitness isn’t much different than working on your physical fitness. That daily walk, for example, is a time to ignore the latest news, to forget about how life has changed for you, and to be aware of nature as you clear your mind. An effective way to lower stress and fight depression is simply to refocus your mind on pleasant, enjoyable things rather than to worry about all that is wrong.

There are numerous activities that can help accomplish that refocusing. Are you staying in touch or renewing contact with family and old friends? Yes, the phone and Internet are still working just fine. What about taking up that hobby you abandoned a couple of years ago, or working through that pile of books you’ve been promising yourself you’d get to some day?

Maintaining positive mental health is important throughout our lives, but especially so during rough times such as we are experiencing today.

“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association (ACA). Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

 

This story was posted on May 30, 2020.