10 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health During A Pandemic

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To echo a present-day platitude, the last 12 months has been a struggle for many people. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), our lives have been changed drastically in several ways. Some of these changes include wearing masks, limiting social interactions, reduced numbers of customers in stores, little opportunities for in-person entertainment, and restrictions to say the least. To make things worse, many places have imposed strict regulations and even stay at home orders, making it so that those living in certain areas are not allowed to leave home for any reason other than what is deemed absolutely essential.

In Ontario, Canada, for example, they imposed the third lockdown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that was declared just over a year ago. As of April 8, 2021, those living in Ontario are to not leave home except to gather necessities such as food and medication, attend medical appointments, support vulnerable community members, or exercise outdoors with members of their household in their communities (Ontario Office of the Premier, 2021).

The effects of this are being felt as the number of people experiencing mental health issues has been declining since the start of all of this. Only 29 percent of Canadians rate their mental health as very good or excellent now compared to 42 percent last April (Abdseemed & Blais-Amyot, 2021). Despite these limitations, there is still hope. This article will cover 10 ways to remind yourself of that hope and improve your mental health during a pandemic.

1. Establish routines

One of the most difficult parts of adjusting to a pandemic is a change in routine. Whether  wearing a mask or not being able to see friends, breaks in routine can come with difficulty. The hope here comes from building new routines and anticipating the slow return to the preferred way of life ante-pandemic. If you’re working from home, it can be beneficial to establish a routine for your day to day. This can be planning a schedule, such as getting up early, eating meals at the same time each day and taking appropriate breaks when needed. Don’t get worked up if you don’t exactly stick to it; life can be messy. Just try to follow it as best you can and allow yourself to feel a sense of normalcy throughout the day.

2. Take cold showers

Most people love taking hot showers (including myself), but taking a cold shower once in a while can provide a number of positive outcomes. Believe it or not, taking cold showers actually helps fight depression. This technique has been deemed hydrotherapy and has been proven to treat chronic fatigue and gloom (Leuangpaseuth, 2020). This is done by lowering the temperature of the brain, which has neuroprotective and therapeutic effects, helping to relieve inflammation and ease muscle sores, reduce pain and improve blood circulation. Additionally, the brain naturally releases endorphins which can result in increased happiness. The next time you’re feeling down, take a cold shower and see how you feel afterwards. 

3. Get outside

After being cooped up inside all day, it can be refreshing to get outside and take in some fresh air. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, you might be surprised just how many positive effects you can experience from this. An article on Forbes states that being outside makes us happier, less stressed, more creative and more socially connected (Ravasio, 2019). Furthermore, it can improve short-term memory, improve focus, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, fight against anxiety and depression and boost our overall immune system. All these benefits come from something as easy as opening the front door and taking a quick stroll. If you’re concerned about coming into contact with other people, you can wear a mask and/or go in the early morning or late at night to avoid others. Give it a shot, you’ll thank yourself later. 

4. Be active

Another key to reducing mental health related issues can be working out or staying active. Even short periods of physical inactivity can impact your health, mentally and physically. A study found that just two weeks of not working out could lead to reductions in muscle mass and metabolic effects (Bowden Davies et al., 2019). Luckily, there are vast quantities of home workouts available throughout the web, from yoga, to strength training to cardiovascular exercises. Whatever it is that you are feeling like, the internet has got you covered. One easy suggestion for a workout is to do a few sets of pushups, jumping jacks and squats, followed by a jog. This easy workout can help make you feel energized, accomplished and confident after just one workout. Why not give it a chance?

5. Tackle your boredom

Tackle your boredom by trying something new, such as a new hobby, sport or art. While easy to overlook, this exercise can provide feelings of happiness and a sense of excitement. Doing the same thing over and over again gets dull, so why not spice things up and try something new. Pick something you’ve always wanted to try or something that piques your interest and see how it turns out. Here are some suggestions: drawing, reading, biking, playing an instrument, trying a new video game, designing, taking a course, baking, singing, slacklining, juggling, skateboarding, starting or joining a (virtual) club, creating an obstacle course, stacking cards and/or building a fort. Let your imagination run wild and allow yourself to try something new, without concern age or ability. 

6. Talk to others

Human interaction is a critical component of daily life and has been for millenia. Together, we eat, laugh, play, sing, cry, shout and more. With the introduction of COVID-19 into our society, these connections are more difficult to come across, especially with members outside of our household or direct circles. By staying connected with others, we can reduce our boredom and feelings of isolation. A great way to do this is by calling, messaging or using social media to contact others that are not directly connected to us through our home or workplace. Talking to others who are in a similar situation can help us to feel a connection to the community and empowerment.

7. Remember why you’re doing this

If you happen to find yourself questioning why we’re doing all of this isolating and quarantining, you’re not alone. Many people will question the pandemic and its consequences at some point over the course of COVID-19. During those times of inquisition, remember why you’re doing this. Think about your health, your family, your community, and our collective world.. Consider the vulnerable populations, such as those with pre-existing health conditions, that are at risk for more severe side effects and disproportionate mortality rates. Think about the good times that will be had once all of this is put behind us. Think about the lives you are saving when you obey these rules. You are making a difference and that is a special and altruistic action. You’re awesome for the sacrifices that you’re making, don’t forget it. 

8. Start writing

Writing down our experiences with words can help ease trauma and stress, as well as help us to cope with unexpected life changes, such as a quarantine. Journaling your thoughts, feelings and emotions about ongoing life occurrences can be great benefactors to our mental health and peace of mind. Beyond journaling, there are loads of other things to write about that can help produce similar feelings, such as writing a novel, short story, list of goals, plans for the future or a non-fiction book about your favourite technology. 

9. Eat well and hydrate

This one may seem obvious but can be easily overlooked if one is not careful. Eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated will help your body feel good and in turn, result in your mood likely improving as well. One way to challenge yourself is to make a healthy meal that you’ve never made before, you might just be surprised with how much you like it and how happy it makes you feel. Do yourself a favour and take care of your body!

10. Find something you can control

With COVID-19, it can be difficult to feel in control as a result of having to give so many things up. One way to counteract this is to find something that you have complete control over and control it. A great example of this is my roommate, who decided to dye their hair blonde a few months ago. They said, “although there are many things that I cannot control, this is something that I can!” This gave them a confidence boost and made them feel on top of the world. Other examples of this could be cleaning your cupboards, putting together furniture, sorting your bookshelf or washing your car. This can help to anchor and ground us, when there are bigger and more chaotic things going on around us.

Well, there you have it. 10 ways to improve your mental health during a pandemic. While we still may have to deal with living in a pandemic, we are certainly able to do what we can to improve our lives during the whole ordeal. Give these tips a shot and see if you notice a difference, it could be worth your while.


Abdessemed, M., & Blais-Amyot, S. (2021, February 17). Pandemic, winter taking toll on Canadians’ mental health. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://healthydebate.ca/2021/02/topic/pandemic-winter-mental-health/

Bowden Davies, K. A., Pickles, S., Sprung, V. S., Kemp, G. J., Alam, U., Moore, D. R., Tahrani, A. A., & Cuthbertson, D. J. (2019, November 19). Reduced physical activity in young and older adults: metabolic and musculoskeletal implications. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1177/2042018819888824

Harvard Health Publishing. (2011, July 11). Expressive writing for mental health. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/expressive-writing-for-mental-health

Leuangpaseuth, B. (2020, May 07). 5 simple habits to boost your mental health during Quarantine. Retrieved April 23, 2021, from https://www.rtor.org/2020/05/11/5-simple-habits-to-boost-your-mental-health-during-quarantine/

Office of the Premier. (2021, April 7). Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/61029/ontario-enacts-provincial-emergency-and-stay-at-home-order

Ravasio, A. (2019, May 30). Being outside has profound effects on your health, according to science. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2019/05/30/being-outside-has-profound-effects-on-your-health-according-to-science/?sh=7c11836f15a1

This article was written by Riley Bunce, Jr. Producer at Mindleap.

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