COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives. Staying at home, social distancing, and self-isolating are essential steps in controlling the spread of coronavirus, but they can affect our mental health as well. Being stuck indoors and worried about the health of your family members and friends can lead to anxiety. Besides, being constantly subjected to a barrage of news can lead to a feeling of despair.
If you’re living with a mental health condition like PTSD, depression, and anxiety, it can be an even tougher time. So, what methods can we use to protect our mental health during these difficult times? Read on to find out.
1. Stay connected with others
Try to stay connected with your family and friends through telephone, video calls, and emails. Staying connected regularly helps to maintain good mental health. Talking about your worries and what you are doing to ease them can help your family and friends as well.
Experts advise setting up buddy groups with family and friends and checking in regularly either online or through telephone. This way, you offer support to anyone who is struggling. Sending daily updates can also make you feel more connected. Avoid sending sensational information. If some people in your social media are increasing your anxiety through the content they are sharing, consider unfollowing or muting them.
2. Get your facts right
There’s a lot of wrong information being shared about coronavirus, which can lead to increased levels of stress. It is crucial to stay up-to-date, but you should stick to trusted sources of information like CDC (1) or WHO (2).
You should avoid speculation and adhere to the facts. Speculative reports increase your stress levels and are of no help. The correct information will help you to determine your risk of developing coronavirus and help you to take the right precautions.
3. Limit your news intake
Hearing or reading too much about the coronavirus pandemic can be distressing. Constant social media updates and 24-hour news channels can make you more worried. For people with anxiety disorders, this can make things go out of control. You don’t have to avoid all news, but you must limit your news intake. Set daily timings for when you can listen to the news and limit your news checks to just a few per day.
4. Exercise if you can
Exercise can boost your mind when you are feeling depressed or anxious. If you can, you must get out into your garden and get your daily dose of sunshine when you exercise. Depending on your age and abilities, you can do yoga, or simple cardio exercises to help improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Suggested read: Tips to Stay Prepared for Home Isolation during Coronavirus
5. Stick to a routine
With schools being shut, social events and trips canceled, and offices shifting to work-from-home, you may feel that your life is chaos. Don’t let this overwhelm you and try to create a new routine. Routines make people feel safe. Writing down a plan for the day or a week can be helpful.
Try to stick to your regular sleep and mealtimes. Engage in useful activities around the house like cleaning and cooking. Focus on activities that make you happy, like reading a book, watching your favorite TV show, or playing an indoor game with your family.
6. Get a better night’s rest
Elevated stress levels and an overload of information can keep your mind racing and elevate your body’s arousal system response, which can lead to insomnia. Loss of daytime structure can also upset night time schedules. When you are depressed or low on energy, you may nap for longer during day time, and this may make it harder to sleep at night. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns. Avoid watching the news before bed, cut back on caffeine, and create a restful environment.
7. Distract your mind
Fun and meaningful experiences reduce the stress hormone cortisol and raise the levels of feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. You can distract your mind from your worries by reading, painting, cooking, baking, and doing crafts. Look at some free online courses and learn a new skill. Writing your thoughts in a journal can also help to offload some thoughts and emotions. Add humor to your day by watching cartoons, comedy movies, or comedy shows.
8. Bring nature in
Spending some time in green spaces can help lower your levels of stress and improve your physical wellbeing. Since you can’t venture outside due to the coronavirus outbreak, you can try out different methods to bring nature inside. Spend time with your windows open. Find a place in your home where you have a view of the outdoors. Get some natural sunlight during the day.
9. Set goals
Setting goals and achieving them gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Make a list of everything that you have wanted to do but never had the time. It can be finishing a book, cleaning the aquarium, finishing a decorating project in the house, or learning more about finance. Now pick the most exciting thing on the list and start with that.
10. Don’t burnout
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t feel like doing anything, don’t worry about it. Be kind to yourself and known when to take a break. You should know that what you are doing is enough. Try to relax and focus on the positive things. Tell yourself that every effort is being made around the world to bring the situation under control.
You must work to minimize the negative impact that the coronavirus outbreak is having on your children. Ask your child what he has heard about the outbreak and explain the facts to him in an age-appropriate manner. Be as truthful as possible, and avoid over-exposure to the news. It is essential for children to feel being cared for, loved, and protected during the time of a crisis.
12. Try relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can help you to deal with feelings of anxiety. Through relaxation techniques, you slow down your breathing and heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or tai chi are all relaxation techniques that can help you lower stress. There is no single relaxation technique that can work for everyone. Choose a method that resonates with you, suits your lifestyle, and can elicit a relaxation response.
13. Get professional help
People living with a mental health condition like depression, trauma, or PTSD may be especially vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. You must get your prescriptions filled for a month and get them home delivered to you from your pharmacy. You can also ask your therapist to hold your telemedicine sessions through videoconferencing. You must also create an emergency plan with your healthcare provider in case your concerns are challenging to manage at home.
Pandemics like the coronavirus outbreak are scary and can affect our mental health. For people already living with certain mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or OCD, these times can be even tougher.
You can take care of your mental health by staying connected with friends, getting your facts right, limiting your news intake, sticking to a routine, and setting goals. Exercising and relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, and mediation can also help. People living with a mental health condition should get their prescriptions filled in advance and continue their telemedicine sessions through videoconferencing.