The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our everyday lives. This can lead to increased stress, as well as new or worsening mental illness. There’s a lot out of our control right now; however, taking care of our mental health is something we can and should prioritize.
Start by removing judgment. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling. It’s completely understandable to be processing new emotions during an unprecedented time.
Even if you feel lonely, know that you’re not alone. We’re facing this pandemic together. However, also note that individuals may be feeling different things and experiencing unique struggles. Have compassion towards others, and be considerate of what people may be going through during this time.
For instance, the stress of a pandemic can cause:
- Fear about your health and the health of your loved ones
- Worry about finances and job situation
- Stress about loss of support services
- Changes in eating or sleeping
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems and/or mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco and/or alcohol and other substances.
To combat these issues, here are some simple steps you can take to improve your mental health during this time.
Stick to a Schedule
If you’re out of work, working from home, or simply experiencing a change in your social calendar, it can be hard to keep a normal routine. However, this is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Keep consistent meal times and continue to nourish your body with healthy foods. Instead of working odd hours and sleeping inconsistently, make a schedule and stick to it. These actions can help create a healthy rhythm and a sense of a “new normal.”
Stay Informed & Follow Sensible Solutions
It’s important to be informed, but don’t overwhelm yourself with information. Stay up-to-date, but also know when to take a break. Set limits for yourself by only checking the news once or twice a day.
Do your part to stop the spread by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. However, don’t go overboard, and be proactive if you have OCD or health anxiety. For example, stick to just 20 seconds of hand washing instead of a full minute.
Continue Your Mental Health Treatment Plan
Just as you should be consistent with your everyday routine, be consistent with your mental health treatment plan if you have one. Ensure you have enough medication and take it as prescribed. Continue attending therapy safely by exploring teletherapy options or ensuring your providers are implementing appropriate safety measures.
Check In With Others
Lastly, give your friends and family a call. Ask them how they’re doing, and offer your support. Even if we can’t gather in the ways we once did, we don’t need to exist on our own islands. Get creative and stay connected to one another.
Get immediate help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
- The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
- Treatment Services Locator Website
- Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers
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