While taking action to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important to be proactive about your mental health. Much is unknown. Fear of the unknown has caused the whole world to become panicked and stressed.
It's more than the fear of family members getting sick and yourself but also people losing jobs, not being able to pay rent, canceling trips and events we were looking forward to, lack of available food and other basic human necessities.
The added stress can be completely overwhelming. We have compiled a list of things to relieve some of this stress and fear.
1. Limit Screen time:
Turn off the news, social media, radio, or anything else that is making you feel anxious. It is important to stay informed but maybe set aside a specific time during the day to catch up on the news. Only do this once or twice a day. It is easy to scroll on social media and read terrifying headlines 24/7 but it can take a toll on our mental health.
2. Gather information from reliable sources:
Social media and internet articles are full of false information. You could seriously drive yourself crazy reading false information, rumors, and conspiracy theories. Some reliable sources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
, MedlinePlus, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
3. Find positive stories:
Find new stories about survivors of the coronavirus or people who have had a loved one go through the illness. Reading a first-hand account of someone’s experience is powerful.
4. Help someone:
Helping someone can get you out of your head and focus on someone else for a while. Offer to go to the grocery store for an elderly couple or offer to watch a friend’s child. Simple things can also help such as helping someone carry their groceries in or holding the door for someone. Even just a smile can make someone's day.
5. Maintain daily routines as much as possible:
Humans are creatures of routine and habits. Having your whole world turned upside down can be scary. Try to keep your schedule as normal as possible. Some things may need to be tweaked but be a little flexible and accept this might be the new normal for a while.
Get some fresh air and take your mind off things. Go for a run, walk, or hike. If you are trying to avoid the gym or studios, try an at-home workout. YouTube has thousands of workout videos to follow.
7. Stock up on medications:
Fear of running out of medications is terrifying for people dependent on medications for mental health issues or other health issues. Having a 30-90 day supply can help lessen anxiety about running out. Keeping emotionally well is just as important as staying physically well.
8. Check-in with yourself, journal, and REACH OUT FOR HELP:
Be honest about how you are feeling. You are not being dramatic for reaching out for help. Have a call or skype session with your therapist. There are also hotlines available to call in a crisis.
9. Don't panic:
It might seem impossible to not panic when people are fighting for toilet paper and the shelves are bare at your local grocery store. Step back, take a breath, and keep calm. Realize that this is coming from people in a state of hysteria and have probably been watching too much news and spending too much time on social media.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or crisis, here are some resources:
1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
2. Text TALK to 741741. They provide anonymous, free counseling 24/7.