How to Get Psychologically Healthier During a Pandemic

Five steps to a better you.

Posted Sep 27, 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown has certainly created a lot of inconvenience and stress. But given that our movement and our opportunities are restricted, with many of us homebound, how can we make the best of a bad situation?

Here are five strategies to improve your mental health during the lockdown:

1. Accomplish Something

Nothing can make you feel better than getting something you’ve wanted to do done. I have a colleague who wrote and self-published a children’s book. I also took the opportunity to finish an unfinished writing project. My wife used the lockdown to do some spring-summer-fall cleaning. Our house has never looked better, nor been more organized. And, we gave away a lot of still usable goods to a thrift store that helps rescue animals. Large scale or small scale projects, it doesn’t matter. The sense of accomplishment will make you feel better.

2. Help Someone Else

There are psychological rewards associated with helping others in need. My father has been volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels (of course, they are safely leaving meals in coolers on people’s porches, and practicing social distancing). There are still volunteer opportunities that don’t require you to expose yourself to the virus. There are even online volunteering opportunities. Here is a resource.

3. Show Gratitude

Research in the area of positive psychology has discovered that there are benefits to expressing gratitude—appreciating what we have, or thanking someone for something positive they have done for, or given, us. Not only can gratitude make you feel better and more optimistic, but it increases empathy. And, if expressed to a friend or loved one, saying thank you will make them feel better too. Instead of dwelling on the limitations imposed by the lockdown, take some time to count your blessings. Research shows that it can also pay dividends in terms of your psychological health.

4. Try Something New

With lots of time on our hands, there’s no better opportunity to do that thing that you’ve been putting off for years. Take a correspondence course. My wife used the lockdown to start gardening (which offers the added benefit of reducing our shopping for fruit and vegetables). An established cook, I’ve learned to bake—something that I had never done.

5. Spend Quality Time With Loved Ones

With so many high-quality social platforms, it’s an opportunity to connect or reconnect with old friends and relatives. Although Zoom is not the same as face-to-face, it can still be a rich form of communication. I know several people who have started letter writing, after years of not sending letters. A handwritten greeting from someone you care about is a benefit to them, and you will likely get correspondence in return.

Share this post with friends to help them to get psychologically healthier.