Surviving the Quarantine: Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19.
The last couple of weeks have been stressful, to say the least. We have been bombarded with news about the Coronavirus and drastic changes to our economy and way of living. Human beings like certainty. We are programmed to want to know what is happening and respond to things that feel threatening to us. It is normal to feel stressed when things are uncertain or we don’t feel safe. Even though our mind and body can prepare for panic and quickly move into survival mode, it can wreak havoc on our health if we let it get out of control. We must do what we can to manage stress and anxiety during these times of uncertainty.
Much of our anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but what feels out of our control. Many people are worried about the Coronavirus, COVID-19. We can feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress. The uncertainty may also be connected to other aspects of our lives including career, finances, friends, and the health of those we love.
In times like these, we need more mental health support than ever. We don’t know what is going to happen. You may notice feeling more on edge than usual or angry, sad, and helpless. You may be more frustrated with others or completely numbing out and want to isolate and avoid others even more. If you already struggle with anxiety and depression, you might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out daily tasks. You are not alone. We are here to support you!
It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events. We are always in control of how we respond. We can choose our reaction. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:
Separate what is in your control from what is not.
What we cannot control include how long this will last, how others react, predicting what will happen, and the actions of others. We want to let go of these things. There are things you can do, so focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Eat balanced meals. Limit your consumption of news. In fact, turn off the news. That is completely in your control. This includes all news and social media. Instead, find fun things to do at home. Work on creative projects. Take advantage of the extra time at home.
Do what is best for you to feel safe.
This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. Practice social distancing and find creative alternatives to stay in connection with friends and co-workers. Avoid people or sources of information that don’t make you feel safe. Self-care is designed by you, for you.
Spend time outdoors – even while social distancing.
Get some sun and take a walk in your neighborhood. Take advantage of the fresh air, sun shining, and get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Ask your partner or children to take a walk with you for quality time together. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
Practice mindfulness by staying present.
Anxiety may trigger worries about your current state and the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus your attention on sounds, sights, tastes, and any other sensory experiences at this present moment. Name them and focus your attention on what is in your immediate environment. Use your breathing to stay connected to your body and slow down your thoughts. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
Stay connected and reach out if you need more support.
Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
We are in this together, and help is always available. SHAPE Center is also available to support those in need through video therapy sessions you can schedule here. If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.