As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, so is the accompanying stress and anxiety. During this time of uncertainty and isolation, the mental health effects are just as important to address as the physical health effects. There are many causes for concern regarding COVID-19. Not only are you worried you may get sick, but you also worry about your loved ones and possibly spreading the virus to the more vulnerable people. You are adjusting to a new reality, and you’re not sure how long this will last. You may be financially stressed or worried how you will support your family during this time. While all these reasons for concern are valid, its important to remember what you can control during this time and focus on those things to provide some comfort.
Mind and Body – Keep a healthy diet and do not smoke or drink excessively. Exercise at home and get enough rest. Maintain self-care and keep up with your personal hygiene. Also, stay mentally healthy by meditating or taking the time to realize what you’re grateful for.
Your Environment – Since many are either working from home or quarantined in their houses, now is the time to clean and get organized. Give yourself a fresh start every morning with a clean bedroom and by making your bed. Keep an organized working environment for a more productive day.
What You Consume – It’s important to not overdo your information and news intake, and you should get all your information from reliable sources like the CDC and WHO. Also, take time to watch TV shows or movies that make you laugh and feel good.
How to Prepare – It’s crucial to stay calm during a time like this and prepare accordingly. Keep enough food on hand for a couple of weeks but avoid stockpiling high demand items so other people can have the essential items as well. Keep up with your medication regime and have a month’s supply at home if possible. Call your pharmacy with any questions or concerns on medication refills.
Protect Yourself and Others – Follow the CDC guidelines of washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face and other people. Stay home if you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
It is normal and valid to feel worried during a crisis like COVID-19. While worry can be common and is a part of anxiety, people with anxiety tend to feel much more exaggerated feelings of worry or tension. Symptoms of anxiety include: uncontrollable dread, stomach and digestive problems, trouble with concentration or memory, increase heart rate, changes in energy and/or sleeping patterns, irritability and/or restlessness.
There are small things that you can do while at home to help with anxiety:
Reach out to someone you trust. Call, text, or video chat a friend or family member
Exercise at home
Use a mindfulness or meditation app
Set a timer for every hour to get up and stretch or walk
Take 10 deep breaths when you feel stressed
If you are taking these steps to manage your mental health but they don’t seem to be working, call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 where crisis counselors are available 24/7. Visit www.mhanational.org for more information or a mental health screening.