As we face potential long-term effects of COVID-19, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever. Social distancing, economic challenges, grief and other changes to our lives can have a lasting impact on our well-being. Marissa Leslie, MD, chief of psychiatry with Adventist HealthCare, encourages everyone to find ways to manage how they are feeling to keep more serious depression and anxiety at bay.
Here are some ways you can cope with feelings of stress, anxiety and other emotions:
EAT, SLEEP AND EXERCISE:
Make sure you are eating a well balanced diet, keeping a consistent sleep schedule and exercising. The recommended amount of exercise is at least 30 minutes, five days a week. This will help you stay physically healthy, but boost your mental health, too.
LIMIT MEDIA INTAKE:
It’s important to stay up to date with information. However, over-exposure to stories in the media can trigger traumatic stress symptoms.
STAY CONNECTED WITH PEOPLE:
“Even though we are physically distant, we need social connections now more than ever,” Dr. Leslie says. Technology can be a great tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Try to check in with friends, family and others several times a week to keep lines of communication open. Talk with people about how you are feeling. They may be feeling the same way, and you can work through emotions together.
CREATE A SELF-CARE KIT:
Having a list of activities or items that bring you joy can make all the difference and help you cope during challenging times.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF:
Don’t feel like you must tackle new home projects, be the best home school teacher, learn a new language or any of the other things you may be seeing on social media. What’s happening is new for us all. Recognize that you are doing the best you can. Focus on keeping yourself and your family healthy.
Reach out to professionals who can connect you with medical, financial or social assistance. If you need to talk to someone, many healthcare professionals are offering telehealth and online counseling services. If you don’t know where to start, ask your primary care doctor for help. Your employer may also offer an Employee Assistance Program to connect you with resources.
“As we process this experience that is COVID-19, know that you are not going through this alone,” Dr. Leslie added. “We will heal from this and can do it together.”