Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19

woman in isolation at home for virus outbreak

For obvious reasons, a global pandemic can have an impact on your mental wellbeing. The combination of increased fear and anxiety, coupled with the isolating effects of social-distancing can have a negative effect on your state of mind.

 

To combat the increased anxiety related to the current COVID-19 here are some tips on how you can manage your mental health and the wellbeing of those around you.

Know the Signs

The first step in managing your mental health is taking stock of your current situation. During a crisis, it is important to notice and accept how you feel and create space in your daily routine to take care of both yourself and your loved ones.

 

According to the CDC, the following are common signs of mental distress that you can look out for in yourself or others:

 

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

 

If you, or someone you know, if exhibiting any of these signs, here are some steps you can take to combat that increased stress and anxiety. 

Get Some Exercise

Physical exercise has a documented and positive impact on mental health, increasing feelings of well being and relaxation while reducing stress levels. 

 

Even though the gyms are closed and the time you can spend outside is limited, you can still exercise at home. 

 

Many home exercise apps, including Centr, the exercise app developed by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, are offering their services free of charge because of COVID-19. You can also practice yoga or pilates in a confined space to keep your spirits up. 

Slow Down on the Coffee

With many of us working from home, getting a cup of coffee has never been easier or quicker. The problem is that caffeine, especially in large doses, can actually make your anxiety worse and lessen your ability to concentrate. 

 

It can also affect your ability to sleep which has a very detrimental effect on your mental health. We’re not saying quit altogether, just keep an eye on how many cups you’re having.

Eat Healthily

During times of stress, it’s easy, and understandable, to want to drown your sorrows in junk food, but multiple studies have linked poor diet with poor mental health. 

 

Even if you can’t get down to the shops to get fresh ingredients as much as you would like, try to maintain as healthy a diet as possible and keep the junk food as a special treat.

Stay Connected

Social-distancing is good, but social isolation is not. Even if you can’t physically socialize with you friends, try and find ways to digitally socialize with them. 

 

Call your friends and family on video calling apps, organize digital hangouts or even a digital cocktail hour. You’ll be surprised at how much you better you feel after a little time spent talking with others.

Take Screen Breaks

Between working from home, streaming movies, and video calling with friends, it can be hard to find time away from the screen. 

 

However, building time into your day to step away from the computer, breathe, and relax your mind a little is very important to maintaining your mental wellbeing.

If in Doubt, Reach Out to a Professional

If you do notice that your mental health, or that of someone you know, is worsening, don’t be afraid to see professional help. 

 

Therapists are simply another form of medical professional who can help you with your mental health and many of them offer sessions over video chat that are still accessible during social-distancing. 

 

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Written by:
Cynthia Lofquist, R.D.A.
Dental Assisting Program Chair
Concorde Career Institute