Covid-19 & Mental Health - The Crisis No One is Talking About
It’s impossible to engage in any activity that doesn’t, in some way, remind us of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Every news source, late night show, streaming podcast, and social media platform is awash with information on the latest pandemic update. Schools and businesses are shuttered and physical distancing orders are in place. The national and worldwide effort for physical safeguards may be helping to “flatten the curve”, but may be driving up anxiety, depression, worry, and stress. Taking care of your mental wellness is more critical than ever. Here are some ways to help your mental health during this crisis:
1. Limit your Covid-19 intake – We all want to make sure we’re up to date with all the latest news and recommendations for the pandemic. There is so much information that it is easy to become overwhelmed quickly. Limit the times of day and the overall amount of time you spend on social media, reading and watching the news
2. Think PHYSICAL isolation, not SOCIAL isolation – Humans need social connection! Our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are critical for our mental health and wellness. Simply the idea of socially isolating from those we care about, and who care about us, can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, even grief. Instead, consider ways to remain connected without physically being present – FaceTime, Skype, virtual gaming, or get creative – set up a lawn chair outside a friend’s house and chat for a bit through a window. Perfect solution? No, but maintaining as much social connection as possible helps.
3. Create a new routine – There is so much that has changed in a dramatically short time – favorite restaurants closed, school closed, children home all day, working from home or even being laid off. All of these rapid changes mean that the familiar routines we create to help our days run smoothly are disrupted. Routines help us feel grounded, stable, and secure. Create a new routine for your day that reflects the new “normal”. Pick a bedtime and stick to it. Wake up at the same time each day. Map out the day so that it is a mixture of leisure, work, learning, and exercise.
4. The head really is connected to the body – Stress, anxiety, worry, depression – we have all experienced those feelings before. All of those emotional states are more than feelings; there are physical signs that go along with those emotions - muscle tension, headaches, nausea, bowel problems, upset stomach, racing heart. Chronic stress, anxiety, worry, and depression and can cause insomnia, appetite changes, and even decrease the immune system. Recognizing this body-mind connection can help you take steps to take a break, engage in a hobby or an activity you enjoy to help cope with these emotions.
It’s more critical than ever before to take care of your mental health. Connect with friends and family as much as possible and seek help and support from professionals. Most counselors are providing tele-counseling options so that everyone can get the support they need during this crisis and beyond.
Be well – stay healthy – care for your mental, emotional, AND physical health,