Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak
We hear a lot in the news about how to protect ourselves and our communities physically during the current health crisis, but we don’t hear as much about how to protect our mental health and stability. Given the drastic changes in everyday life and the barrage of news stories on TV and in social media, everyone is at risk for increased anxiety and depression – even people who have never had such symptoms before. But what can you do to avoid getting overly anxious or depressed? We suggest trying out some (or all!) of these strategies when things start to feel overwhelming:
- Take breaks. Whether you are now working from home, homeschooling your kids, or working increased hours in an essential field, give yourself permission to take a breather. Get up and walk outside, pick up a magazine, take a short nap. It doesn’t have to be long, just as long as it gives your mind and body a moment to regroup.
- Phone a friend. Being physically distant from friends and family can heighten feelings of anxiety and depression. But being distant doesn’t have to mean being disconnected. Try a phone call, a video chat, or even writing to someone via email or snail mail. Reach out, and you may do just as much for someone else’s mental health as your own.
- Stick to a routine. Even with your activities being limited, you can still wake up at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, and get your day started just like before. Not only will that help you feel some normalcy, but it will make it easier to readjust once the current situation is over.
- Lower expectations for your kids. They may not verbalize it in the same way, but kids (even teenagers!) are feeling the stress of this situation. Instead of getting frustrated and focusing on deadlines and outcomes, focus on supporting them, listening to them, and showing them where to go to find help with questions about their school work. Most schools have teachers that miss their students terribly and would love to be able to offer some guidance and assistance!
- Lower expectations for yourself. You may not be remodeling your bathroom, cleaning all your closets, or learning a new language, but if you’re keeping your family and yourself healthy and safe, you’re doing great! This isn’t an easy time, and nobody expects you to be superhuman.
- Limit your news intake and your exposure to social media. Check the updates once or twice a day and then let your mind focus on other things like enjoying your family or reconnecting with a friend. Don’t give in to the anxiety that makes you compulsively consume every news update and comment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there, including mental health providers that are able to “meet” you and help you with remote visits via phone, video, or internet. Help is there for you!
Check out the following websites, which list lots of helpful tips and ways to find more help if you need it. Stay well!