Mental Health And Coping During COVID-19
At our core we want to have certainty in our lives. When things are uncertain and feel beyond our control it can leave us with a sense of not feeling safe. This contributes to anxiety, worry and fear. The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is very stressful and is leaving many of us feeling uncertain and out of control. This may also remind us of other times in our lives when we did not feel safe, and as a result we may feel more on edge, angry, helpless or sad.
It is important to remember we are all doing the best we can during these difficult times. Treat others with kindness and compassion, knowing they are doing the best they can. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion knowing you are also doing the best you can. It’s important to remember to take care of our mental health and wellness during these uncertain times. Some things to consider:
- Separate what IS and what IS NOT within your control. We cannot control the virus itself but we can control our response.
– Wash your hands.
– Practice healthy habits around eating, sleeping & exercise.
-LIMIT news and social media. It’s good to be informed but limit exposure to the news and social media commentary.
-Connectivity is more important than ever! Get creative in finding ways to stay connected with family, friends & loved ones by phone or video. Maybe write some cards and letters!
-Many social interactions are going virtual like yoga classes, book clubs and even concerts. Take advantage of virtual opportunities to connect with your community
- Get outside in nature! Fresh air and sunshine are so very important and you can usually easily social distance outside. Walk around your neighborhood, hike or bike a trail. If you aren’t in shape to be moving, just spend sometime outside in the great outdoors.
- Stay in the present. Don’t project into the future, don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet, that’s additional worry you don’t need. Stay in the present. If you need to get grounded, take a few deep breaths and focus on the sites, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. Go to the Mind Springs Health Facebook page or MindSpringsHealth.org/COVID19 for some self-guided meditations and other resources to help you stay in the moment.
Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.
Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.
Call your healthcare provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row.
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Share the facts about COVID-19 and the actual risk to others. People who have returned from areas of ongoing spread more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not put others at risk.
What are quarantine and social distancing?
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
- Social distancing means remaining out of places where people meet or gather, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.
Sharing accurate information can help calm fears in others and allow you to connect with them.
Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.
Children react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared. Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for in children:
- Excessive crying and irritation
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (e.g., toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child:
- Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
- Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know if is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Help your child to have a sense of structure. Once it is safe to return to school or child care, help them return to their regular activity.
- Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.
Courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention