In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are struggling with fear and uncertainty about the future. There are many things happening simultaneously that contribute to making this an especially stressful time. Staying home, avoiding public places, and fears regarding if and how the virus may impact you and your loved ones all add to increased feelings of anxiety and worry.
Inevitably, the impact of COVID-19 can affect your mental health. Even when trying to maintain a positive outlook, it is impossible to avoid the latest statistics and news alerts about the current state of the world. Everyone deals with stress and anxiety in different ways. People can become cynical, afraid, or panicked as time passes, and learning how to cope with these difficult emotions is imperative, especially as more people shelter in place and their daily lives begin to change.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health
Many people are struggling with stress and the new limitations they face as the world addresses the coronavirus. These feelings are completely normal, but they can get out of control. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and it can take its toll on physical and mental health. While it is important to stay informed on what is happening in the world, constantly monitoring the latest news can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. Although what is happening around the globe is outside of your control, during this difficult time, it is important to support yourself and those around you by taking action. Some of the most meaningful ways to alleviate its impact on your mental health include:
- Take a break from the news: COVID-19 coverage is everywhere. It is on television, the radio, and on social media. Taking a break from coverage of the coronavirus can help you decompress and can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Educate yourself: As more people talk about the coronavirus, misinformation can surely spread. Doing research about the risk factors and the nature of the outbreak can help ease your worry.
- Spend time unwinding: Engaging in activities you enjoy can help ease some of the anxiety you may be struggling with. Exploring new interests, picking up a book, or spending some time exercising can help you cope with difficult emotions.
- Take care of yourself: Although life may look different right now, it is important to continue practicing self-care. Getting regular sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, and exercising can help you feel better physically. You may consider meditating, stretching, and other activities that evoke relaxation in order to calm your mind as well.
- Talk about your feelings: Confiding in a trusted loved one about how you are doing and what you are feeling can make managing your emotions easier. Speaking out loud about your concerns can help you process them and work through them more effectively.
Creating Your New Normal
Although we do not know how long our “new normal” will last, it is important to find ways to manage it. It can be easy to succumb to negativity and focus on the scarier aspects of what our world is facing but finding ways to stay engaged and active can help alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety you may have. While your everyday activities may look different now, there are ways to create a new normal as we navigate through the unknown.
- Have a routine: Even if you are practicing social distancing and not physically going into work, it is important to maintain a routine. Routines provide a sense of normalcy during a time that is anything but. Even simple activities like getting up at a regular time, making yourself a cup of coffee, and spending time talking to loved ones can help create balance.
- Make time for physical activities: When practicing social distancing, it can be easy to spend your days in bed or sitting on the couch. While binge-watching your favorite show may be a fun pastime, it is important to not lose sight of your physical health needs as well. Spending most of your time at home can make it seem impossible to engage in regular exercise, especially if you routinely visited a gym or exercise class, but you can still get active at home. There are a number of online programs you can follow along from home. Even if you do not have workout equipment, you can often find household items that are effective substitutes. Lots of exercises do not require equipment to perform. Yoga, push-ups, stretching, sit-ups, and a number of other activities can keep you active and engaged.
- Make time to talk: Even if you are physically distanced from your friends and loved ones, it is important to maintain a connection. Socialization is vital to mental health and there are a variety of ways you can stay up to date with your loved ones. Phone calls, texting, video conferencing, and gaming are all ways you still speak with and see others. Many people are branching out and exploring new apps, using online challenges, and finding creative ways to connect with others.
- Engage in meaningful tasks: While it is certainly okay to take time to relax and unwind, finding ways to stay productive can keep your mind engaged. Staying on top of chores and housework, taking on a project you have been putting off, or exploring new interests and hobbies can help you focus on what you can control in your life. In a time where things are uncertain, feeling a sense of control over certain aspects of your life can minimize the amount of time you spend dwelling on the unknowns.
- Practice good hygiene: Staying at home can make it easy to neglect basic self-care practices. While it can be fun to spend a day lounging in your pajamas, it can eventually take its toll on your mental health. Even if you are staying at home, make time to continue taking care of yourself. Taking a shower and putting on regular clothes can be incorporated into your daily routine and help you feel better physically and mentally.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse, Nexus Recovery is here to help. We’re an outpatient treatment program serving the Los Angeles area, and we’ve remained open to the public. Our staff is also taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of our clients during the current situation, so contact us today for more information about how we can assist you with your recovery.