Behavioral Health and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is having a big impact on all of us. We’re faced with the challenge of staying healthy and of coping with social distancing. 

This post will help you clarify the challenges, as well as offer some strategies to meet them.

Challenges

Of course, the biggest things on our minds are keeping safe from COVID-19 through social distancing, while at the same time coping with the pressures that social distancing creates. Just like it’s important to keep yourself physically healthy from COVID-19, it’s important to keep yourself mentally healthy and as free of stress as possible.

In particular, this means making sure social distancing doesn’t turn into social isolation. One of things to watch for is whether you’re taking care of yourself in the ways you normally do when your life is filled with in-person interactions. It’s important to keep up with self-care and hygiene to maintain our sense of self-worth.

And we need to avoid relying too much on video screens to get through the day. Too much screen time can put stress on our eyes, and can even interrupt our normal sleep pattern.

Strategies

Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy:

Stay Connected

  • Keep in touch with friends, family and co-workers by using email and video chat. You can even host a virtual event, like a party, with everyone attending from their own home.
  • If you have kids, work with them to help them stay on top of the instructions and homework they’re being given by their teachers.

Keep Yourself Entertained

  • There are games you can play on your computer or phone, as well as streaming services to watch all the latest movies and episodes. You could even set up a movie or game night so that you can enjoy it as a family. Just don’t spend too much time with your eyes fixed on the screen.
  • Try to pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill you have always been interested in. You could learn to say “Hello” and a few other phrases in a different language.
  • Create a workout routine for yourself. It will give you something to do and help you stay healthy. If you can, include your family: some playful competition could be good for everyone.

Manage Your Mental Health

  • As we mentioned above, stay connected with your support system. They’ll help keep you grounded (and you’ll help them, too).
  • Take a walk outside. It’s important to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Even opening a window can help bring the outside indoors.
  • Taking a minute to focus can clear your thoughts and anxieties, helping you to stay positive. If you’re not sure how, you can look for an online tutorial, or download an app such as Calm or another mindfulness tool on your phone. You could also try “square breathing”: breathe in on a count of four, hold for four, breathe out on four, and hold again for four. Then repeat.
  • Listen to your favorite music. You could also ask a friend to introduce you to theirs.
  • Keep a journal. Writing things down is a very therapeutic activity, and can help you process they day’s events. Drawing and coloring can also help.
  • If you’re in therapy, stay in touch with your therapist using video sessions. Telehealth has become much more common in response to COVID-19, and your therapist is probably offering appointments by phone or video link.

If You Have to Go Out…

  • Be alert and aware of who is around you so that you can keep your distance – six feet – from them.
  • Bring a pair of your own gloves to avoid direct contact with anything that could carry the virus.
  • Ask cashiers if you can swipe your own card for payment. Choose credit to avoid having to enter your PIN number.
  • Disinfect anything that you touch: your phone, car steering wheel, pen, keys, etc.

Resources

Don’t forget that you have a world of resources at your fingertips. Here are just a few:

www.samhsa.gov – This is the official website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It has a number of helpful guide and videos for mental health, as well as a National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/therapy-for-anxiety-disorders.htm – This is from a website that talks about anxiety disorders. This particular page identifies different therapeutic techniques for anxiety that people can use on their own at home.

www.worldometers.info – This website offers a wealth of statistics about the world’s population, including the most up-to-date information regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). It helps provide some perspective on the impact of the virus.

This post is based on information provided by Stephanie Wilson, Behavioral Health Care Coordinator.

 

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