The past year has been challenging for everyone across the world. None of us saw this pandemic coming, except for researchers and epidemiologists, but their warnings fell on deaf ears. This is why if the COVID-19 crisis has caused you a lot of stress, you don’t need to be hard on yourself. The past year feels hard because it is hard, and acknowledging that is one of the best ways to protect our mental health.
If you’ve been under a lot of mental and emotional distress, you don’t need to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. You don’t need to reach for the bottle, binge junk food, or chase after unhealthy relationships. Here are some healthy ways to soothe and comfort yourself in times of stress and anxiety.
Look for a non-harmful transitional object.
Transitional objects are anything that can bring you comfort. Usually associated with kids, transitional objects can be their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. As adults, it’s OK to have these “emotional support” items as well. Is it your photo album filled with family photos? How about your favorite cozy sweater? Even stuffed animals can work. Don’t underestimate the power of certain objects to bring you comfort and a sense of healing during this time.
Ease your way out of sobriety.
If you have a history of looking to junk food or alcohol for some comfort, 2021 is the best time to ease your way out of these practices. Not only is consuming unhealthy food and drinks bad for your health, but binging and heavy drinking will only end up making you feel worse in the long run. They might numb the pain for now, but they don’t actually address the roots of your emotional and mental distress.
If you’re having a hard time cutting back, consider going for better options, like healthier snack alternatives or visiting the vape lab. Opt for less harmful ways of blowing off some steam.
Take a shower.
This might seem simple, but research says that even the simple act of cleaning yourself up can do wonders for your current mood. This is because it can help you feel less guilty about whatever transgressions you may have committed in the past, it will help take your mind off your current troubles and big decisions, and it will help clear your mind a little.
Do some grounding exercises.
It’s hard to maintain a level of inner peace when we’re constantly bombarded by distressing headlines and bad news from all sides. When we’re constantly attacked with things that cause us stress, from relationships to social media, it’s hard to keep ourselves regulated. This is why it’s important to make the daily choice of grounding yourself and keeping yourself centered. Here are some grounding exercises you can try:
- Put your hands in water.
- Do some simple breathing exercises.
- Hold an ice cube for a few seconds.
- Move your body.
- Speak kindly to and about yourself.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- List down things that you’re thankful for.
- Spend time with your pet.
- Get some fresh air.
These grounding and regulating techniques are tools you can use to help you cope with present distressing thoughts, but they won’t address your issues from the core.
Experiment with different approaches.
Because we’re all different, certain techniques work for others that might not work for you. This is why you must constantly remain on the lookout for healthy habits that can help boost your mood and instantly lift you out of your mental and emotional distress.
Some people find comfort in cooking, while others find that it adds to their stress. Some find comfort in speaking with their loved ones, while people who value their individual time find it a burden. At the end of the day, self-soothing is about making yourself feel better, so make sure to check in with yourself to know what works and what doesn’t. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy options!
Open up to someone you trust.
There are no two ways about it: Talking it out can help us feel better. Simply being honest about negative and difficult emotions can bring about a profound level of healing—it strengthens our immune system, reduces our stress, and decreases physical pain as well.
When to Seek Professional Help
But of course, one of the best things you can do for your mental health is consulting with your primary care provider. Your doctor will advise you if you need more formal and professional help from a therapist or a counselor. These soothing techniques may make us feel better, but they’re not long-term solutions. Don’t be afraid to share with your doctor to help you address your mental and emotional distress from the roots.