Worldwide mental health statistics are troubling. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, every 40 seconds, we lose one person to suicide. In the time it took you to click on this link and read this paragraph, somewhere in the world, one person has lost their life by their own hands.
Suicide is a complex issue, which is why every September 10, we take part in the World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a global problem — and the Philippines is no exception.
The State of Mental Health in the Philippines
Suicide cases rose during the lockdowns. Figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that cases of suicide rose by 25.7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, partly because of a failed pandemic response.
Although we could only do so much about a global health crisis, you can do small things to improve your mental health.
Here are 10 ways to enhance your mental health during lockdowns.
Assess Your Mental Health
Although mental health has received greater attention in recent years, a lot of misconceptions still abound. Some may overlook the symptoms of mental illness and as a consequence, do not seek the treatment they need.
Take a few minutes to research symptoms and make a short assessment of your mental health. If you experience the signs of a mental illness (or if suicidal thoughts cross your mind), don’t hesitate to get help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help
Despite the efforts of health institutions to raise awareness about mental health, heavy stigma still surrounds people who seek professional help.
Remember, in most cases, mental health conditions don’t get better on their own. Some even deteriorate without proper medical attention.
Moreover, you don’t have to be in a dire mental condition to get therapy. Like routine medical check-ups, therapy sessions help catch issues that may grow worse. And it gives you a judgment-free zone where you can talk about your problems.
Engage in Physical Activity and Exercise
Countless studies have shown the positive effect of regular exercise on mental health. In fact, those who engage in regular physical activity have shown a lower risk of developing a mental illness.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, gyms closed down and home fitness workouts soared.
If you have unresolved fitness goals from 2020, now is a great time to sweat it out. Not only will it help improve your mental well-being during lockdown, but it will also help you look great and reduce the risk of illnesses.
Cooking habits also changed during the pandemic. Because food stalls and restaurants needed to close down, more people learned to cook at home. As a result, you have tons of food videos to guide you and help you expand your repertoire of healthy food.
Healthy meals not only enable your body to function efficiently, but it also improves your ability to focus and decrease mood fluctuations. Happy stomach, happy life.
Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
The occasional glass of red wine isn’t bad for your well-being. Everything’s fine in moderation. However, when you’re always at home and have access to beverage delivery, it’s all too easy to open a cold can of beer after every meal.
However, heavy drinking interferes with the chemicals in the brain that are essential for good mental health. So if you’re a man, keep your alcohol consumption to two drinks a day. For women, it’s ideal to keep alcohol to one drink a day.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Poor sleep is linked to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. As such, the Centers for Disease Control urges adults to take 7 or more hours of sleep each night.
Here are some tips:
- No phones or TVs an hour before bedtime
- Maintain a quiet and cozy sleeping area
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
Spend Time Outdoors
Exposure to sunlight is known to trigger the release of serotonin, a hormone linked with boosting your mood and helping you stay focused.
Although you can’t just step outside because of quarantine measures, you can open your windows to flood the room with sunlight. You can also take a walk outside your home (outside curfew hours) or spend time working on your garden.
Break the Monotony
The monotony of lockdown routines will drain physical as well as your mental energy, so if you’ve always wanted to try something out — like painting, lifting weights, learn to drive — now’s the time to start it.
If you’re not sure about what to get into, these hobbies surged during the lockdowns:
- DIY Home Improvement
- Learning a Language
Start Self-Care Rituals
Self-care routines hit two birds with one stone: you take care of your physical body while calming down your mind.
Here are a few rituals you can look into:
- A morning and evening skin care routine
- Building a capsule wardrobe
- Making delicious and healthy dessert
Extend a Helping Hand
Everybody’s having a hard time during the lockdown, from dealing with COVID anxiety to managing isolation. So it’s a valuable thing to look after one another. Extending kindness helps improve your self-esteem, improve mood, and happiness. Now more than ever do we need to build kinder communities.
Mental health is a complex issue, one that’s still wrapped in stigma in the Philippines. Although several sources are accessible for those who struggle with anxiety and depression, reaching out can still be a challenge. On the bright side, it’s not impossible either.
Do you have any tips to improve mental well-being during quarantine? Share it with us!