During times of uncertainty, it’s normal to experience feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Right now, many of us are concerned about how coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact our physical health. But that’s not the only thing at risk. Beyond the fear of becoming ill, lies concerns about our finances, our loved ones, and our future. Which raises the question: How do you address your mental health during a pandemic?
If you are struggling to cope with coronavirus anxiety, here are four ways you can support your mental health.
Limit News Consumption
When there’s nowhere to go and not much to do, it’s no surprise that we frantically turn to our devices to keep up with the latest news. But if what you hear and read makes you feel more anxious than informed, it may be time to set some boundaries. Moving forward, rely on just 1-2 credible news sources for information and set time limits to avoid a downward spiral. For example, you may choose to scroll social media while your coffee brews in the morning, watch your local news during lunch, and catch up with the national news after you put the kids to bed. Creating a schedule will allow you to be more intentional with your time, limit distractions, and protect your sanity.
Develop a routine
Whether you’re adjusting to a work-from-home lifestyle or trying to manage a house full of children again (or maybe even both at the same time), this “new normal” has likely disrupted your everyday routine. We’re navigating an ever-changing environment, so be patient with yourself and find the silver linings. These unique circumstances give us an opportunity to reevaluate the ways we manage health and well-being for ourselves and our families.
Carve out time each week for meal prep, meditation, exercise, and sleep. To limit trips to the market and keep your healthy diet on track, try a grocery delivery service. To lower your stress hormones, commit to 15 minutes of meditation per day. While gyms are temporarily closed, there are many home workouts available online. If you can maintain 6-foot distancing, you may even consider a brisk walk around your neighborhood. At the end of the day, practice good sleep hygiene by removing technology from your bedroom and making a cup of tea or journaling to calm your mind. Above all else, stick to a consistent schedule.
Stay connected to loved ones
Social distancing is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, but it can very quickly lead to feelings of loneliness. Now more than ever, people are turning to apps like FaceTime and Skype to keep in touch with friends and family. Through the unprecedented challenges that coronavirus is forcing us to deal with, we’re presented with a unique opportunity to connect in new ways. This may mean hosting a virtual happy hour or book club with colleagues, coordinating an online trivia night with your neighbors, or mailing a hand-written letter to your elderly family member.
Discover a new hobby
Feeling a bit stir crazy? You’re not alone. Self-isolation has left us with an abundance of free time, but choosing how to spend it has proven to be a challenge. Whether you need a positive way to cope or a self-esteem boost — try picking up a new hobby or rediscovering an old one. Sinking into a book or podcast, organizing your home, baking, and crafting have all shown therapeutic benefits. No matter what activity you choose, let it bring you while you stay healthy and safe indoors.
For the latest coronavirus information and resources, visit the CDC website.