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How to self-love in a pandemic

Taking care of your mental health under normal circumstances is tough. Depression, anxiety and a number of other mental health illnesses have become increasingly prominent over the past several years. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated problems that are already hard to deal with.   

Being told to stay inside whenever possible, being constantly aware of the lives COVID-19 has taken and knowing this pandemic isn’t likely to end any time soon is taking its toll on otherwise healthy individuals.  

So, what can one do to help deal with the overwhelming stress and anxiety in a global pandemic? 

  1. – Acknowledge that we live in an incredibly stressful time. Nothing about life right now is normal or easy. It’s okay if you feel unmotivated or unproductive. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed. It’s okay to not be where you thought you’d be at this point in your life. Many, many people are in the same boat. 
  1. – Take some time each day to find something that you can look forward to. Whether it be the warmer weather, a new recipe you want to try or a new shirt you just bought online, use that to bring some positivity in your life. 
  1. – Speaking of recipes, one way to add excitement in your life is to find a new recipe to try every week. Not only will this add something new to your weekly routine but it will also help you expand your palette. You can try dishes from different countries, learn which spices go best with different foods, or learn a twist to add to your favorite recipes. 
  1. – If you have some spare time, create a positivity board. Get a cheap cork board from somewhere like Walmart or Hobby Lobby and cover it with things that fill you with joy. These could be photos, magazine clippings, even stickers. You can dress it up with ribbon, paint, gift wrapping and/or glitter. Hang it somewhere that will allow you to see it often. 
  1. – Try reading books outside what your normally read. The app Goodreads not only keeps track of the books you’ve read but gives you recommendations based on what you like and don’t like. You can connect to friends and see what they are reading. It also allows you save books you want to read. 
  1. – Talk to a counselor. Kirkwood offers counseling services free of charge. While they can’t prescribe antidepressants or other medications, simply being able to talk to someone can do wonders. The counselors at Kirkwood all specialize in different needs and concerns, so it is likely there is someone who can help with whatever you need. Kirkwood counselors offer telehealth appointments. You can learn more at: https://www.kirkwood.edu/explore/services/counseling/index  
  1. – Scream into a pillow. 
  1. – Getting out for a brief walk a couple times a week can do wonders for your mental health. Visit a local park or simply walk around your block once or twice. May sure to wear your mask and keep your distance from anyone you pass. 
  1. – If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, keep your windows free of blinds during the day. Sunlight can increase mood, regardless if the skies are clear or cloudy. With the weather turning warm soon, try opening a window. Fresh air can be both refreshing and rejuvenating. 
  1. – If you ever feel like hurting yourself, if you feel like you’re a harm to yourself or if someone you know may be a danger to themselves please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. If you prefer to text, send TALK to 741-741. 

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