This is a time of great uncertainty as we face the unknown and try to resume some semblance of normalcy in light of the current news of Coronavirus or COVID-19. With any external stressor, it is normal to feel stress and oftentimes we don’t even realize that we are tense or unsettled. We may notice feeling more on edge than usual, sadder than usual, some physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches or stomach upset. Given the constant talk about the “danger” our nation is facing, it is normal to feel worried, helpless and/or ill at ease. For those that already struggle with a mental illness, recent events may cause even more stress and potentially exacerbation of symptoms. Regardless of personal situations, the current state of affairs will impact all of us to some degree.
Below are some strategies that may help minimize stress and promote mental health.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness and/or breathing exercises. Find what works for you!
- Take time to yourself when you can do something you enjoy and block out the noise of Coronavirus. Taking breaks from social media and the internet to do something enjoyable is a good idea at any time, but especially right now.
- Be sure to get enough sleep and eat well. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition and lack of hydration can intensify stress. Try to get outside in the fresh air when able.
- Focus on the things you CAN do and not on the things you have no control over. We can all take care of our own health, watch where we choose to go in light of crowded areas, practice good hygiene and wash our hands frequently.
- Observe where your thoughts are taking you and if you notice that you are worried about the “what ifs”, try to bring yourself back to the present. If you find yourself worrying about things that may happen, it sometimes can help to re-focus on your 5 senses (sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch) to bring yourself back to the present.
- Make time for levity. Laughter is a healthy coping mechanism (as long as you are not laughing at someone!)
- Stay connected to others (even if it’s by phone if you aren’t able to go out) and seek support if you need it. It is often hard to ask for help, but it’s a highly important skill. We are not alone in this.
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