As public concern and precautions for COVID-19 are on the rise, the impact of this pandemic is being felt by everyone. Experiencing increases in stress, fear, anxiety, sadness, frustration, confusion are all normal reactions in the face of the tremendous amounts of uncertainty we are all navigating as a result of this crisis. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health during this tumultuous time. Although there are aspects of this situation over which we might not have control, it is important to remember that there are aspects of this situation over which we do have control. Let’s focus our attention and energy on those things. We can always choose our response, including our mindset and actions, in order to promote our own well-being and take care of our mental health despite the current circumstances. Below is a list of ideas to help manage anxiety, promote self-care, and prioritize your mental health.
- Seek accurate information from credible sources. There is a barrage of information regarding COVID-19, which can become easily overwhelming and exacerbate feelings of worry and distress. Consider limiting your news intake in terms of both quantity and intensity. Maybe limit news intake to one reputable source for a few minutes in the morning and evening in order to assess whether there is anything you need to change about your behavior. For example, The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a reliable source and has a webpage dedicated to information about the coronavirus outbreak.
- Take care of yourself. Work to identify things that are vital for you to feel mentally, physically, and emotionally well. Maybe that includes diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, connection with loved ones, or finding a creative outlet. Where possible, maintain your daily routine and implement structure if normal activities are disrupted. Be intentional in creating time for your own self-care activities.
- Stay connected. Maintain contact with friends and family. Talk with others about how you’re feeling and concerns you are having. Calling, emailing, Facetime, and video chatting are all practical ways to not feel isolated and to seek out support while still practicing social distancing.
- Re-direct back to the present. Engaging in mindfulness practice is one way to help you stay grounded when things feel beyond your control. Maybe you are stuck worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet or trying to predict the outcome as related to the COVID-19 crisis. Acknowledge your emotional experience, and then gently bring your awareness back to the present moment by noticing sights, sounds, tastes, textures, smells in your immediate environment. Take a few deep, belly breaths. Connecting with these sensory experiences helps you to feel grounded and present. Perhaps try out an app such as Headspace or Calm to engage in guided mindfulness meditations. Notice how you feel after doing so.
- Maintain sense of positivity. Work on intentionally identifying and focusing on things that are positive in your life. It may be related to this crisis or not. What are you grateful for in this moment, big or small? Try to visualize your gratitude and why it actually matters to you. Engage with this practice for a few days in a row and notice how it impacts you. Being kind and compassionate towards others is contagious. Maybe find a way to engage in a random act of kindness for another person. Spread the positivity!