From mandated government stay at home orders and business closures to gut wrenching stories of violence on the news and city curfews, the coronavirus and other events have caused more than just physical harm to our world. Yes, the spreading of this virus has caused deadly and horrible stories but it has also caused many feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other feelings that can be harmful to our mental health. Not to mention, the current state of the world right now can feel very uneasy. People are experiencing feelings of fear and anger and all of these mixed emotions can cause us to feel many ways. In this blog post, we are going to discuss some ways that you can try and maintain your mental health. Keep reading to learn more.
Starting off, we want to acknowledge that this outbreak has caused feelings of turmoil — no matter how old you are or what your current situation is.. From schools and businesses being shut down to empty grocery store aisles, this can make you feel stressed, not only about yourself, but also about the people around you and those whom you love. It’s also important to acknowledge that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.
How you react to any situation depends on a multitude of factors such as your environment, your upbringing, your friends, and the community you are in. All of us are currently being affected by the virus and other events, some more than others, but we’re all going through this and the important thing to note is that we will get through it together!
Due to the changes going on, there are certain demographics of people who may be more susceptible than others. According to the CDC, older adults with chronic illnesses are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 which could give them uneasy feelings. Children and teens who have had their daily lives disrupted by school cancellations will also show signs of stress. Working adults in various essential job fields such as healthcare workers, first responders, and other areas of business may not be themselves due to the high amount of stress they are facing every single day. People who have had ongoing mental health issues may be feeling even more isolated than normal, causing extreme spikes of anxiety and depression. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we want you to know that it is completely normal to be feeling this way during the pandemic that we’re facing. How you cope with these feelings is what will make the biggest difference.
According to the CDC, stress during any infectious disease outbreak can include any of the following:
- Fear and worry about your own health/the health of your loved ones.
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Increased substance use (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs).
Let’s learn more about how you can help cope with these feelings.
What can I do to support myself?
Log Off Social Media
While it’s important to keep yourself updated and educated about what is going on around you, hearing constant news stories about the stress of the situation can take a toll on your mental well-being. Instead of leaving the TV on with the news, listen to it once and then turn it off. The same thing goes for your social media outlets. Whether you’re reading, viewing, or hearing these stories, it can cause you more anxiety, especially if you’re already stressed. Stay informed, but don’t flood yourself with information. Turn it off and take a break from the stories. If you need to unfollow or mute specific people you follow, do it. There is no shame in prioritizing your own needs from time to time, especially when it comes to your mental well-being.
Take Care of Your Body
Staying inside the house all day can cause us to live sedentary lives, especially if you live in an apartment, condo, or more compact living area. Remember to get up and move every so often, even if it’s just a walk around the house, to the mailbox, or even a quick step outside, get your body moving. Exercise can also help alleviate feelings of stress. When we exercise our brain produces endorphins which help elevate our mood. Eating healthy and well-balanced meals can also help give your body the proper nutrients that it needs, helping you feel better. When you’re eating, you’re fueling your body and your brain, which is why it’s important to fuel it with good foods. Avoid alcohol and other drugs that can cause intense dopamine crashes.
Connect with Others
Human connection is one of the most important aspects that we need to function. While some people may consider themselves more introverted and like their own space, no matter how extroverted or introverted you are, you need human connection. Even though things are starting to reopen, it’s still not as easy to go out and meet new people/be around friends. While we understand that this is not ideal, keep that connection going by reaching out to friends and family. A quick phone call or video chat can go a long way for both parties. It’s also important that you reach out and accept help if you need it. Due to various closures, this virus outbreak has caused many people financial stress. If you need help there are so many organizations, churches, and even neighbors and friends that are willing to help. If you’re struggling with your mental health, reach out to a provider. Our office and therapists are doing tele-visits and video sessions so that you’re still getting the treatment and care you need, while still adhering to the social distancing policies.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It can be easy to get caught up in the midst of the virus and all the media coverage. Take a step back and try to acknowledge any feelings that you may notice. Are these feelings temporary and unlike you? Or are they feelings that you typically experience but heightened? Whatever they are, take the time to accept it. Once you accept these feelings, you’ll be able to understand how you can or need to be helped. This is an unknown time, which can be very scary for all of us. There is only so much you can do as a regular person, take it one day at a time. Do what you can do to protect yourself. Accepting these feelings can help relieve you and help you understand what needs to be done.
The state of the world right now is a difficult one. There is so much going on and we are all being affected, some more than others, but all of us nonetheless. If you are needing mental health care, whether that be individual therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, or anything else, we are here for you. Palatine Ridge Counseling is currently scheduling new appointments and offers a variety of services and rates to fit your needs. Learn more and schedule your appointment with us today.
If you are or think you’re having symptoms of coronavirus, please call your local health care office before going in. To eliminate exposure, your healthcare provider may have specific protocol that you need to follow. From all of us at Palatine Ridge Counseling, we’re here to help you take care of yourselves.