Taking Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

Most of us feel that in the last few weeks, our lives have been turned completely upside down. Almost every facet of living has changed, and we don’t know when life will start feeling normal again. That’s a lot of uncertainty, and often with uncertainty comes anxiety, stress, frustration and feelings of helplessness. Even though you can’t change the world and local events, you can choose how you respond to them. By focusing on what’s in your control instead of what isn’t, you’ll feel more grounded, confident and hopeful. Here are some suggestions that might help you: Change your mindset. Yes, you are “stuck” in your home, but you have the power to choose what you do with your time there. Rather than feeling stuck, think of this as an opportunity to do some things you always said you didn’t have time for. Declutter the kitchen, start a daily stretching routine, teach the kids a new game, read that book you got last summer. Limit how much time you spend listening to the news. Designate a defined period of time once or twice a day for news updates. Consider limiting yourself to certain straightforward websites, such as who. int or cdc.gov. Stick with a daily routine — as close to your normal one as possible. This is especially important if you have young children or if you’re working from home. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, get out of your pajamas, and stick to your exercise and housework routines. Not only will this feel more familiar, but you’ll also more easily transition back to your normal life when the time comes (and it will). Try incorporating some new activities or rituals into your routine, like a virtual coffee date with your sister each morning, a daily afternoon walk, or regular journaling. Bring out a jigsaw puzzle for the family to work on each night after dinner. Get outside. A daily walk or jog can work wonders. Stretch your legs, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the coming of spring. Both exercise and spending time in nature naturally boost mental health. Just remember to stay clear (6 feet away) from other people. Meditate, practice yoga, or simply belly breathe. Meditation and yoga are proven techniques for reducing symptoms of stress and depression; some organizations offer meditation training or yoga videos/apps online. If that seems too involved, try simple controlled breathing techniques to help calm your mind. Our CFPS newsletter on Coping With Anxiety, found HERE, includes a list of books and apps to help manage symptoms of anxiety (see page 2) as well as a step-by-step guide to belly breathing (page 6). Reach out to others. Social connections are so important to mental well-being. This is a challenging time to maintain those connections, but we’re fortunate to have technology that helps us easily stay in touch. Texting and social media are great, but a phone call or video conferencing through FaceTime or Skype is even better. Don’t forget your neighbors or distant friends and relatives who might be feeling lonely and in need of a friendly phone call or FaceTime call. You’ll make them feel good, and yourself as well. Finally, if your anxiety is feeling unmanageable, contact a mental health professional for support. Our licensed therapists offer teletherapy services via a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform. You can schedule an appointment by calling (269) 372-4140.