Staying mentally healthy during COVID-19
Keeping solid emotional and psychological footing during a pandemic can sometimes be difficult. It’s normal to feel different, intense emotions. There are many strategies that you can use to help prevent and manage fear, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other feelings.
Utilize technology for mental self-care
There are many free and paid apps that can be downloaded to a phone or device that can help with mindfulness practice, de-stressing, addressing depression and anxiety, and much more.
- Download the myStrength app on your device. COVID-19 related information has recently been added to this app. Topics covered include: Using grounding to pause and find your way forward, finding inner calm in turbulent times, managing overwhelming thoughts, keeping perspective in a crisis, keeping relationships strong, and many more. Free access has been made available by the State of Utah using code UDHSguest33.
- Many behavioral healthcare providers are still able to see patients during this time by connecting via telehealth or other secure conferencing applications.
Physical activity and exercise
Want to boost your mood? Even a small amount of physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental health. It can relieve stress, improve sleep, and improve overall health. With gyms and parks closed, it is important to find ways to add physical activity to your day.
- Set an alarm on your phone at regular intervals to remind you to get up and move around. Take a quick walk outside around the block.
- Coordinate with friends or family to do a “steps” challenge to compete for the highest number of steps in a designated time frame.
- Pump your favorite music and take 5 minutes to dance every day (even if alone!).
Stay connected with family and friends
We have been asked to “socially distance,” but not socially disconnect. Stay in touch with friends and family in unique ways.
- Utilize video chat to have fun and interactive visits with family and friends. Share strategies with one another that you are using to stay positive.
- Schedule “drive by” visits where you can drive by and wave from the car or driveway while staying socially distanced.
Reduce stress and anxiety
There are many unknowns right now – how long will we be social distancing, work disruptions, financial uncertainties, etc. Steps to reduce stress and anxiety can help us feel more grounded despite these unknowns.
- Limit exposure to media about the pandemic. Find a balance between being informed and watching 24 hours a day. Follow reliable sources, like the CDC.
- Use focused meditation and relaxation. Turn off digital devices and media coverage and enjoy at least 10 minutes of thoughtful meditation (Utilize an app as suggested above to help guide your meditation if desired).
- Set and keep a schedule, go to bed and wake up at regular times, and keep your work or school routine as close to normal as possible.
- Remember the activities you normally love doing that can be continued.
Control what you can control
Make cleanliness a priority. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched. Keep focused on what you can control at this time, which includes staying at home to stay safe.
- Provide service to others – help them by running to the grocery store if they can’t go out or providing other services such as mowing a lawn or shoveling snow.
- Include in the daily schedule time for yourself to decompress through physical activity, mindfulness, reading or another method.
- Keep things in perspective – this is a strange and unprecedented time, but things will return to normal eventually. Keeping things in perspective can help you to make good decisions and take care of yourself and others. Remember the airplane rule: put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.
Ask for help when needed
Changes in our lifestyles like working from home, children doing school from home, and not being able to physically visit with friends or family can be challenging. If you become overwhelmed and feel like your thoughts or actions have become debilitating, please know that it is okay to ask for help. That help can be as simple as asking a friend or neighbor to pick something up for you at the store the next time they go, to reaching out for assistance with mental health supports.
If you or family members are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, it is okay to reach out to a professional for help. You can call:
- Your primary care provider or physician
- The COVID-19 Emotional Health Relief Line: 1-833-442-221
- The Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- A behavioral health provider for a telehealth appointment
- The Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
- For emergency childcare: 2-1-1
- For support regarding an alcohol or drug problem: 2-1-1
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233