If the coronavirus pandemic has you upset, you’re not alone. Many people are stressed and depressed over the toll of this virus for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is concern over the loss of life, widespread unemployment, and the isolation that results from stay-home orders. It’ll be a while before life goes back to normal, but a new study has revealed ways to make the days more bearable.
The new study comes from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where researchers gathered data on more than 600 people in the US about their behavior during the pandemic, as well as their experiences. The idea was to uncover the things people are doing that may be positively impacting their new-normal lives during this unusual period of history.
Social connection is an important part of mental health for humans, making the isolation of stay-home orders and social distancing particularly hard for some people. The new study encourages the public to avoid spending too much time focused on their self, instead encouraging them to place their focus on activities linked to a better sense of wellbeing.
According to the research, these activities include spiritually-focused habits like meditation and prayer, as well as getting exercise, focusing on self-care, participating in hobbies, and taking time to relax. On the other hand, the study found that passively browsing social media has a ‘strong’ linked to increased negative feelings, including anxiety.
As well, both introverts and extroverts were found to have positive results from spending more time with other people — especially if they live alone during this time. Social distancing makes this tricky, but things like video chats and voice calls were found to have benefits that text-based conversations lacked.
Overall, the study highlights five things that can help improve your day and your mood during the pandemic:
– Limit how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling on social media like Facebook
– Accept negative emotions as they arise, don’t fight them
– Connect with other people, and not just by sending text messages
– Practice self-care
– Help other people