• Dr. Pennington, NP

Taking Care of Your Mental Health Part 2: Coping with COVID-19


Though you might feel somewhat powerless or limited in what you can do from such a distance, there are ways you can offer support and take control of emotions. Below is a list of suggested activities that might help you during this difficult time.


Seek support: Mental health professionals and support personnel are now widely available online. They, like us at WHW, are able to provide quality mental healthcare through video or telephone appointments. Most insurances are quickly expanding their coverage to telehealth or telemedicine services to keep up with the demand from the Covid-19 pandemic. In the USA you can dial 211 to get connected to mental health professionals in your state.




Maintain a healthy routine: Stress can disrupt our daily routine, in turn causing more stress. It is important to maintain your regular schedule for sleep, eating, having fun, socializing, studying, and working etc. If this is difficult to achieve by yourself, work with a friend - you can encourage each other in self-care.




Exercise: Physical activity can boost your immune system, help you feel good about yourself, increase your energy levels, alleviate stress, and help with sleep. Meditate: Find some time every day to do a bit of meditation. It helps you feel grounded and present. 




Be informed: Uncertainty or misinformation can increase worry and cause panic. You can stay informed through official, fact-checked channels (e.g. Center for Disease Control website or World Health Organization website). Pay attention to some positive news: Despite this difficult time, there is often some positive information in daily news. Decide whether the degree of your worry is consistent with reliable information (e.g.: incidence rate, death rate, current advancement of medicine etc.) But limit the information: Sometimes, too much information leads to overload and more stress. So please try to limit your exposure (such as <1 hour/day), and make sure your information sources are reliable. Avoid reading information on the topic before going to bed - this can make it more difficult to fall asleep. 


Think positively: Recall how you and your loved ones survived past hardships and crisis. Remind yourself that things are temporary and the current situation will pass. Please remember that no matter what happens in the future, you and your loved ones are striving to live day-by-day in the present. Change your perspective - consider the current time as an opportunity to show more care to yourself and your loved ones.  




Share your thoughts/feelings with others (in moderation): Talking about your thoughts and feelings can help alleviate stress. Others might share similar feelings and help you feel less alone. Check in with your loved ones (in moderation): If you are worried about your loved ones, please reach out to them when you feel comfortable and lend a listening ear. Loved ones are often concerned about us and we may think they are trying to protect us by not being fully truthful; try not to jump to conclusions about their health and well-being, and please understand that we cannot always control others’ behaviors or change their beliefs. 




Learn to say “no”: Although sharing can be helpful, sometimes it is also important to say “no” when you are not comfortable with sharing or engaging in conversations on the topic. Just make sure you set your boundaries respectfully or leave conversations in an appropriate way. 




Engage in conversations and activities unrelated to the outbreak and allow yourself to have some fun: There is still life outside of the current crisis. Reading news and engaging in activities unrelated to the current outbreak is okay - it doesn’t mean that you don’t care or aren’t concerned.




Do some relaxation: Make sure to plan some relaxation or activities you enjoy into your daily schedule, such as deep breathing, spending time with friends, coloring, listening to music, taking a shower, taking a walk, etc. 




Let it out: Sometimes expressing your emotions can be helpful - try journaling or keeping a voice diary, or let yourself be upset for a while.





Adapted from https://www.mtholyoke.edu/counseling/mental-health-coronavirus

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