Ten tips for managing your mental health as COVID-19 wears on
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it can feel like there’s no end in sight. COVID-19 has brought about a multitude of sudden changes to daily lives, routines, physical contact with family members, friends and colleagues. It has introduced challenges with unemployment, housing and education, along with fears and worries about your health and the health of your loved ones.
“These new harsh realities can evoke feelings of sadness, anxiety, despair, grief and stress. Learning to adapt to these challenges can be especially difficult for people with mental health conditions or those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction,” said behavioral therapist Anthony Mesiano.
Mesiano shared these suggestions to utilize when looking after your mental health or assisting others who may need extra support or care.
- Have a routine. Continue to follow a daily routine as much as possible or create a new one.
- Keep a schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same times every day.
- Maintain personal hygiene. Take care of yourself by showering and brushing your teeth on a regular schedule.
- Eat well. Be sure to eat healthy well-balanced meals at regular mealtimes, adding in healthy snacks as needed. Also, remember to stay hydrated.
- Enjoy some “you” time. Remember to carve out time to do things that bring you joy – whether that’s going for a walk, painting your nails, talking with a friend on the phone, etc.
- Reduce your media intake. Try to limit the amount of time you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. It is important to know the facts about COVID-19 and understand the risks. But try to consume the news during specific times of the day, once or twice if needed, but not constantly.
- Be social. Social interaction with others is vital. Socializing can be a challenge while practicing social distancing and mask wearing, but it is possible to maintain regular contact with people close to you by phone, text, email, video chat or social media.
- Limit your alcohol and drug use. Minimize the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink at all. Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping during these times. A person being treated for alcohol or substance use disorder during the COVID-19 outbreak may find increased feelings of fear or social isolation can increase the risk of return to use.
- Give yourself a break. There is no rule book for this pandemic – no one has experienced this before. Be gentle with yourself and others when confronted with short-comings or when trying to make decisions. Remind yourself that you are worthy even when you are not performing well.
- Breathe. Try to remind yourself to take a deep breath and let a sense of calm wash over you. Find a moment of solitude when feeling overwhelmed. Use a positive daily affirmation to improve your mindset. Learn to incorporate mindfulness practices in your daily routine to help stop the constant “mind chatter” and to center your thoughts.
If you are wondering what is normal or not normal right now, you are not alone. “It is absolutely normal to be experiencing stress and anxiety right now,” said Mesiano.
If you have concerns about feelings you are experiencing, reach out to a professional to discuss where and how to get treatment. It is imperative for those with a preexisting mental health condition to take medication as prescribed and be certain to have medications refilled.
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