Your Mental Health During COVID-19: Optimal Guidelines For Taking Care Of Yourself During This Pandemic
Unprecedented- that’s the buzzword of the month and for a good reason. On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization officially labeled the viral disease, COVID-19, as a pandemic. For the past few weeks, we’ve escalated into a nation of medical emergencies, round-the-clock news, social distancing, and financial insecurity.
While the coronavirus itself isn’t new, this novel strain has had severe (and fast) ramifications throughout the world. This experience, of course, heightens intense emotions in most of us. You might be feeling anxious or frustrated. Your daily routine may have been disrupted, and adjusting to the new changes can feel challenging.
Taking care of your mental health during COVID-19 is essential. Let’s get into what you need to know.
Identify And Validate Your Emotions
How have you been feeling the past few weeks? Anxious? Numb? Angry? All of these reactions are normal, and all of them are healthy.
This pandemic represents a significant, global trauma stressor. When faced with trauma, our body activates its primal fight-flight-or-freeze response system. That’s because our brain constantly scans for danger. Interpreting and responding to this danger is part of our survival instinct.
The flight instinct entails a surge of adrenaline. You may want to go to the grocery store and ‘prep’ for the emergency. You might check the daily news and determine your best course of action for keeping your family safe.
Fighting might look like seeking some semblance of control. You might focus on organizing your entire house, sanitizing surfaces multiple times in a row, or even yelling at others to change their behavior.
Finally, freezing might look like feeling immobilized. You don’t know how to take action. You feel lost and directionless, and everything seems overwhelming.
It’s normal to circle through many emotions each day. Your emotions aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They aren’t ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ They’re just natural impulses to the stimuli around you. The more you try to resist or suppress your emotions, the more intense and consuming they tend to be.
It’s okay to feel sad about missing your family right now. Okay to feel scared about the future or what’s going to happen next. Okay to feel annoyed about missing a vacation or a special event. Your emotions are real, and they are valid. Although it may seem contradictory, acceptance helps you understand and move through your feelings.
Focus On What’s In Your Control
Your kids are home from school. Maybe you and your spouse are now working from home. Perhaps, you’ve lost your job, or you feel concerned about your job’s security. Moreover, you can’t dine in your favorite restaurant, and toilet paper is nowhere to be found. And most of all, you’re making your best effort to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.
We’re all in uncharted territory, and this day-to-day survival mentality can feel rough. Many people feel out-of-control. And when we feel out-of-control, we risk numbing our emotions, hurting the people we love, or otherwise sabotaging ourselves.
Fortunately, there are many variables in your control. By focusing on them, you can reduce some of the anxiety you feel.
Personal Safety and General Hygiene
By now, we all know the significance of washing our hands, using hand sanitizer when water is unavailable, and avoiding touching our eyes, noses, and mouths. We also need to practice social distancing, which refers to maintaining at least six feet of distance from others. If you feel unwell, stay home. Disinfect high-traffic areas around your home daily.
Take Care Of Your Physical Health
Yes, the sedentary lifestyle may feel tempting right now. However, countless research highlights the numerous benefits of how a well-rounded diet and regular exercise boosts your mental health. You may have to get creative with your meals or workout routine, but aim to prioritize these self-care needs.
Limit Excessive Media Exposure
With live updates occurring every moment, the media can quickly transform into a dangerous rabbit hole. And while it may feel productive to remain current with the news, too much media exposure can negatively affect your mental health.
You’re allowed to take breaks and set limits for yourself. And if you do want updates, check with reliable sources rather than turning straight to social media.
Reach Out For Connection
Even if you’re practicing social distancing, that doesn’t mean you should avoid contact with loved ones. In fact, it may be more important than ever to stay connected. Humans are naturally social creatures, and loneliness can exacerbate your mental health symptoms.
Fortunately, technology can make this connection incredibly easy. Schedule regular FaceTime or Zoom calls with your loved ones. Start a group chat and check in with friends. Plan fun stay-at-home activities with your spouse or children. Write old-fashioned letters to extended relatives.
Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During COVID-19
Your mental health during COVID-19 might feel erratic and untethered. Try to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Remember that we’re all struggling, and we can all help each other as we move through this time.
Therapy can be profoundly beneficial during periods of uncertainty. We’re all experiencing a global trauma- we don’t exactly know what the future holds, and we’re all trying to stay safe. At Willow Counseling, we’re here for you. Whether you’re struggling with intense anxiety, feeling more depressed than usual, or just not sure how to cope with these intense changes, we can support you during this time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality
trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community,
recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical
selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills,
relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our
greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again
and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.