The physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are indeed frightening because they can range from no symptoms at all too acute respiratory failure or even kidney failure. However, a public health scare also creates mental health effects, and they need to be addressed. (Image Credit: Polina Zimmerman/Pexels)
The Psychological Impact of a Pandemic
The risk of infection is stressful and so is having no choice but to stay indoors. Plus, there’s also the anxiety of possible unemployment and financial issues because of the economy tanking across the globe. New Zealand initially did a great job at flattening the curve. However, new cases of the virus threaten another wave of infections.
According to a study published in the QJM International Journal of Medicine, people aren’t used to the isolation and travel restrictions recent social distancing policies have created. These are linked to feelings of uncertainty and frustration that people are ill-equipped to handle.
The researchers studied social distancing events similar to today’s pandemic. The most common psychological reactions to such events include uncontrolled fears of infection, frustration and boredom, disabling loneliness, and anxiety. When these are left untreated, they could lead to more significant conditions, like depression and anxiety disorder.
The Benefits of Purposeful Activities
One of the ways to cope with the anxiety and stress of these trying times is a purposeful activity. The meaning of this varies from person to person.
However, its general definition is using your time, attention, and energy to actively participate in reaching a goal you find satisfactory. This brings a sense of stability to your life. For some, their purposeful activity is their work, for others, it’s their hobbies.
Why Hobbies are Great for Your Mental Health
Hobbies make for great purposeful activities because you do them to relax or have fun on your own time, as opposed to your job, which you’re obligated to do over weekdays. They make you feel like you’re contributing to something and building your self-worth, which is always important to your well-being.
They also provide a feeling of pleasure when you work on them, whether it’s as simple as riding your bobber motorcycle every night or as complex as rebuilding a vintage car from scratch.
However, a lot of hobbies these days may be challenging to do these days, particularly ones that require you to be outdoors or with a crowd. So what can you do to keep yourself sane during these trying times?
Gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies you can do, whether it’s for your physical or mental health. Researchers have found that being in a green space, or an area surrounded by grass and vegetation, can reduce the risk of developing psychiatric disorders, like substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.
Apart from having a healthy mind, this activity can also lead to a healthy body. Gardening lets you explore the great outdoors, even if it is within the confines of your yard. This means you get free doses of vitamin D courtesy of the sun. It also pushes you to do physical activities that make you work up a sweat, like carrying pots and water cans, pulling out weeds, digging, and more.
If you want to handle more than just plants, you could start taking care of animals in your yard. Beekeeping tools like a porter bee escape board and birdkeeping equipment, like birdhouses, are readily available online and in your nearest hobby stores.
Get Into Art
One of the key ways to keep yourself mentally healthy is proper self-expression. Art provides you with a simple and satisfying way to do so. Whether you’re sketching, painting, sculpting or writing a poem, you’re communicating your feelings in a way that you wouldn’t be able to do so verbally.
Art also provides a sense of community. Sharing your work with your fellow artists makes you feel like you belong in their circle, reducing the isolation you may feel during this pandemic. What’s great is that you don’t have to go to a museum or a meetup to experience it. Publishing your work on social media and online art forums gives you access to a wide community of artists in different niches.
Learn an Instrument
Another way to keep your brain healthy is to learn an instrument, according to neuroscientists at Penn Perelman’s School of Medicine. It uses both the right and left sides of the brain, keeping you fully focused and invested in what notes or beats you’re going to play next.
Whether you’re learning the guitar, violin, or drums, music is a guaranteed stress reliever. Moreover, it also improves your memory, information processing, and ability to express yourself.
The recent pandemic doesn’t just affect your physical health, it can also impact your mental well-being. Keep yourself mentally healthy during the lockdown and focus on purposeful activities like your hobbies. And if you don’t have any, try out these suggestions.