It is easy to become overwhelmed by concerns about COVID-19 and its potential impact. Social distance only makes the situation worse. Learn about COVID-19 and your mental health, and also how to cope with pandemics.
It’s possible that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of your life, including the uncertainty, the changed routines, financial stress and social isolation. If you are concerned about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, if your job will be impacted, or what the future holds, you aren’t alone. It is often difficult to determine where to start and how to move forward when you are overloaded with information, rumors and misinformation.
In surveys before and during the pandemic, adults in the United States reported more stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression symptoms than now. Those who are frightened by the pandemic have increased their drug or alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs can exacerbate anxiety and depression.
COVID-19 and your mental health are likely to worsen the outcomes for people with substance use disorders, particularly tobacco and opioid addicts. Therefore, the use of these substances can adversely affect lung function and weaken the immune system, leading to chronic conditions such as heart disease and lung disease, which increases the risk of serious complications associated with COVID-19.
Due to all of these factors, it is imperative that you develop self-care skills and seek the care that you need to help you cope.
Related: COVID Anxiety Syndrome
Self-care strategies are beneficial to your physical and mental health, as well as help you achieve a sense of self-confidence. Taking good care of your mental health means taking care of your body as well as your mind.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Take good care of your body:
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Set a regular time for going to bed and getting up each day. Even if you stay at home, you should stick to your usual sleep and wake schedule.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising regularly can help reduce anxious feelings and improve your mood. You can do this by engaging in a movement-based activity, such as dancing or using exercise apps. You can also go outside to observe nature.
- Eat healthy. Make sure your diet is balanced. Reduce your intake of junk food and refined sugars. Caffeine can contribute to stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
- Stay away from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Smoking and vaping put you at greater risk for lung disease. You are at even greater risk for COVID-19 because it affects the lungs. When you use alcohol to cope, you make things worse and make your coping skills worse. If your doctor prescribed medications, don’t use them as a coping mechanism.
- Limit screen time. It is a good idea to turn off electronics at least 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Consider spending less time in front of screens, including televisions, tablets, computers and phones.
- Relax and recharge. Do something that you enjoy. You can gain peace of mind and reduce anxiety by taking a few minutes of quiet time every day. Meditation, deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, and mindfulness can be helpful for many people. Whatever relaxes you – a bubble bath, listening to music, listening to a book, etc. Practice a relaxation technique you find relaxing and make sure you do it regularly.
Keep your mind healthy
Identify stress triggers and reduce them:
- Maintain your daily routine. Your mental health depends on having a regular routine. Keeping consistent bedtime schedules is essential, as is keeping a consistent schedule for eating, bathing, and getting dressed, work or studying and exercising. You should also schedule time for leisure activities. It will give you a feeling of control.
- Try to limit your media exposure. Media reports about COVID-19 can raise fears about the disease. Do not rely on social media sites to obtain accurate information. You should also limit the amount of news you listen to and watch, but remain informed of national and local recommendations. Ensure that the sources are reliable, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Stay busy. It is worthwhile to find healthy distractions in order to break the cycle of negative thoughts that cause anxiety and depression. Read a book, write a journal, make a craft, play a game or cook a new meal to relax at home. Maybe you should start a new project or clean out the closet you said you’d get to. Positive actions are helpful in managing anxiety.
- Think positively. Instead of dwelling on your problems, choose to focus on what’s good in your life. Make a list of things you’re grateful for each day. Keeping hope and accepting changes as they come are essential to minimizing problems.
- Take inspiration from your moral compass. It can be comforting to draw strength from your belief system during hard and uncertain times.
- Set priorities. Create a list of life-changing things you will accomplish while at home, but don’t overdo it. Establish daily goals that you can reach and plan how you will accomplish them. No matter how small your steps in the right direction are, give yourself credit for them. Understand that not every day will be successful.
Make connections with others
Build relationships and support:
Make connections. When working remotely or when you must isolate yourself from others for a period of time due to COVID-19, do not isolate yourself socially. Every day, make time to stay in touch via email, texts, phone calls or video chats. Share coping tips with your coworkers if you are working remotely from home. Take advantage of virtual socializing and communication with those at home.
Whenever you interact in person with another person, you should try to be creative and safe, for example, go for walks, talk in the driveway, or wear a mask for activities inside.
After getting fully vaccinated, you may be able to resume many indoor and outdoor activities that you might not be able to do due to the pandemic, including gatherings with family and friends. A mask should be worn indoors or outdoors in crowded areas or if you are in close contact with unvaccinated people if you live in an area with a high number of new cases of COVID-19 and mental health.
People who are unvaccinated and who participate in outdoor activities where there is room between them and others pose a lower risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus than those who do not.
Help others. Don’t let others down. It’s one of the best ways to help ourselves. Check in with your family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly, by sending an email, text or making a call. If you have a friend who can’t leave, see if there is anything they need to be picked up, such as groceries.
Support a family member or friend. You should come up with ways to stay in touch if you need to quarantine a family member or a close friend at home or in the hospital because of COVID-19. Sending a note to brighten the day, for example, could be done through electronic devices or through the telephone.
Read: COVID-19 Stress
Eliminate stigma and discrimination
Feelings of isolation and abandonment are common when people are stigmatized. When friends and other community members avoid them out of fear that they may contract COVID-19, they may feel depressed, angry, and hurt.
Many factors contribute to stigma‘s harm to people. A pandemic can often leave stigmatized groups without the resources they need to cope. Moreover, those who do not seek medical care are more likely to become stigmatized.
COVID-19 has caused stigma for people of Asian descent, medical workers, those who have the virus and those who have been released from quarantine. Individuals who are stigmatized may face exclusion or shunned, discrimination at work and in the classroom, and may also be verbally, emotionally or physically abused.
Stigma can be reduced by:
- The CDC and WHO are reputable sources for detailed information about COVID-19
- It is important that you speak out if you hear or see inaccurate statements about COVID-19 or a certain person or group
- Engaging with people who are stigmatized
- Being supportive of health care workers
Recognize typical and abnormal situations
Stress is a normal physical and psychological response to the demands of life. Every person is different when faced with difficult situations, and there’s nothing abnormal about experiencing stress and worry during a crisis. Nevertheless, multiple challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a detrimental effect on your performance.
During this time, many people experience anxiety and depression symptoms. Feelings may fluctuate throughout the period.
Your best efforts may not prevent the feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger, irritability, hopelessness, anxiety or fear. Your concentration may be affected, your appetite may change, you may experience aches and pains, or you may have problems sleeping, or you may have difficulty organizing your daily schedule.
When you suffer from these symptoms for several days in a row, feel miserable, or have trouble carrying out your normal responsibilities because of these symptoms, it’s time to seek medical attention.
Whenever you need help, ask for it
Having high hopes that mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, will go away on their own leads to worsening symptoms. Be open about your mental health, especially if you experience worsening symptoms. Speak up if you need help or if you have any concerns. Here are some things you can do to get help to overcome COVID-19 and your mental health:
- Reach out to a loved one or close friend – even if it’s hard to express yourself.
- You could also speak to a church leader, minister, or peer mentor.
- You can ask your employer’s employee assistance program to refer you to a mental health professional or to provide counseling.
- Get advice and guidance when talking about your anxiety or depression by calling your primary care provider or mental health provider. They may be able to provide appointments over the phone, via video or online.
- Information about information and treatment options is available from organizations such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Getting help for COVID-19 and your mental health is essential if you’re thinking about harming yourself or feeling suicidal. Talk to a mental health professional or your primary care provider. You can also contact a suicide prevention hotline. Please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the United States, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat for its webchat service.
Seek help: Mental Health Resources
Maintain your self-care practices
After the health crisis of COVID-19 passes, you may not feel as stressed as you are now; however, the strong feelings you are currently experiencing are likely to fade after the crisis ends. Keeping up with these self-care practices will help you maintain your mental health and improve your ability to cope with life’s challenges.
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