Remember to Take Care of Your Mental Health
With the outbreak of COVID-19, many have experienced heightened feelings of stress and anxiety. As you take care of your physical health during this time, it’s also equally important to put a strong emphasis on your mental health.
According to Mental Health America, there have been at least 88,405 additional positive depression and anxiety screening results than expected since the worry over COVID-19 began in mid-to-late February. The outbreak of the disease has no doubt been overwhelming to many people and has caused increase levels of stress and anxiety. This stress can lead to:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
It’s important to take care of yourself and your loved ones using resources and tips provided by experts, including the following:
Maintain social connection when possible.
Right now, it’s especially important to provide support to those closest to you. According to HelpGuide, “no matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and function at your best.” Take some time to connect with friends online using a conferencing application like Zoom or FaceTime.
Take breaks from the online world.
It’s easy to get caught up in the tangled web of news stories and reports about the virus. While it’s important to stay informed, you should give yourself a break from reading the news every once in a while to help you stay grounded. Instead, try taking on a new hobby like doing puzzles, knitting, or playing video games. These activities require your attention, so they can help you step away from the world for a moment.
Get your body moving when you can.
There are two consistent variables that most mental health professionals recommend you focus on to improve your mental health: diet and exercise. These recommendations may seem simple, but in reality, they are recommended because they work.
Bernard Lenchitz, MD, vice president of the UC Health Primary Care Network and professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of medicine, notes in a blog post from UC Health that physical and mental health are equally important to remain healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Lenchitz said, “I’m not sure you can separate the two. I look at them as one and the same.”
Intense exercise isn’t necessary to benefit your mental health. Modest amounts of physical activity like walking, swimming, or dancing can make a big difference.
Save your mental energy.
Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, says, “Wasting brain power ruminating about things you can’t control drains mental energy quickly. The more you think about negative problems that you can’t solve, the less energy you’ll have leftover for creative endeavors.” Morin suggests focusing on only what is within your control and expending your energy on productive tasks like solving problems or setting goals.
Building Better Mental Health (HelpGuide)
5 Powerful Exercises to Increase Your Mental Strength (Amy Morin, LCSW)
Coping with Stress (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
What COVID-19 is Doing to Our Mental Health (Healthline)
Supporting Your Mental Health While Navigating Change (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
COVID-19 and Mental Health: What We Are Learning From Mental Health America (Mental Health America)
How to Take Care of Your Overall Health During COVID-19 (UC Health)