With all the uncertainty happening as we navigate the spread of the Coronavirus, it is no surprise that our mental health will be shaken up. The transition to remote working and cancelled events for the good purpose of preventing the risk of spreading the disease might lead to heightened feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. As someone who wrestles with mental health battles on a regular basis and is passionate about this work, I laid in bed last night and couldn’t help but dream up this little blog for anyone who is seeking tips or support. While I am no certified expert, I hope this post can provide some resources and reminders for how we can best care for our mental health during this time.
So, without further ado, here are my four tips for mental health care during the coronavirus:
In a time where most of us are moving to more physical isolation, it can be easy to dip into social isolation, as well. Even though we are more connected through our phones than ever before, our mindset can transition to one of loneliness and distress real fast. Especially as an extrovert whose number one love language is quality time, I know that I need to intentionally stay connected to those I love these next few weeks. Scheduling FaceTime dates or just picking up the phone and spontaneously calling my best friends always makes me feel lighter and happier. We are not going through this alone, so don’t forget to be intentional about time to connect.
And, as you are able, connect in real life! Continue going to your local coffee shop and checking in with your barista or to your work out class for a good (safe-distance!) sweat. These check points of connection will help your days move faster and help us all feel less alone.
Savor the good things in high-stress times like these. As many people are being affected by trips being cancelled and transitioning to remote work, it is easy to focus on all the downsides, negatives, and fears for the future. I want to encourage us all to savor the small, good wins in a day. Within those tiny, but present, moments of joy, we can take a time to record them in a journal or just speak them out loud to cultivate positivity. Whether that’s a hot cup of coffee or your favorite playlist, nothing is too insignificant to be grateful for.
When we learn to savor the small things, we can create and maintain a positive mindset in the here and now. This article from Shine is a great resource for learning how to fully let yourself savor good things.
While it is important to stay updated and informed, an endless stream of news is never healthy. We aren’t made to handle the never-ending amount of information and minute-to-minute updates we can access with the scroll of a finger. And, the more we take in, the more we open ourselves up to worry about. When really…so much is out of our control. Therefore, I recommend limiting the amount of time you’re on social media or taking in the news. It is so easy to reach for our phones when we have nothing to distract us, but having a non-stop stream of news is not necessary or healthy in this stressful time. Maybe we can see this time as a gift or opportunity to meditate and become more present in the current moment.
Another consideration is limiting the time you give yourself to worry. Of course, I’m not saying to suppress or invalidate your feelings, but consider designating a time to worry and grieve so you can express yourself in those ways and then refocus your head space on something else. I find this practice extremely helpful in that I will give myself 20 minutes to worry and consider all the “what-ifs” that are plaguing my mind…but then once I’m done, I’m done, and I embrace what IS in my control and what is not. Let yourself feel your feelings without overindulging or letting them rule your day. This article from Shine details how scheduling in your worry time can help reduce anxiety.
Oftentimes, my anxiety, worry, and fear is increased when I realize I am focusing WAY too much on myself and not nearly enough on others. I find myself in the cycle of what will happen to me in the future, what is hard for me right now, and what I’m worried about. Again, I’m not saying to not let yourself experience these emotions and let them in, but when the cycle is getting too much, I get out of my head by thinking of others.
So many people will be affected by the coronavirus in ways I can’t even imagine whether that is regarding their health, their jobs, their finances, their travel, their families, or their homes. Let’s give what we can financially. Let’s support small businesses. And if we don’t feel led to give in those ways, let’s give our prayers and thoughts. Take time to refocus on someone else and pray for their wellbeing, comfort, and support. We are living in a super uncertain period of time, so as Jen Hatmaker said in this amazing post, Let’s Be Our Best Selves.
Finally, I just wanted to share two more resources that I had sent to me this morning that proved so so helpful already. The greater mental health community is here to support us during this time. I know I’ve talked about Shine so much already in this post, but truly they are putting out such important and helpful work in the world of mental health. They’ve created a Care For Your Coronavirus Anxiety Website with articles, meditations, and even access to psychologists here to help you navigate this stressful time. Within that website was a link to this NPR article with 5 tips that can help you regain your calm. I found them all extremely helpful, so I wanted to share, as well.
Care For Your Coronavirus Anxiety: https://www.virusanxiety.com/
5 Tips To Help Regain Your Calm: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/03/811656226/pandemic-panic-these-5-tips-can-help-you-regain-your-calm
We’re in this together, team. Let’s be our best selves and show ourselves + those around us immense grace and love in this stressful time.