The COVID19 pandemic is impacting the world in a way unseen since the Spanish Flu of 1918. But unlike the early 20th century, we are also aware of the mental health impacts that pandemics have on people. Most people understand that Coronavirus affects your physical health, but not as many understand that COVID19 can also cause, or even exacerbate, mental illness.
To help spread helpful coping strategies and tools to protect your mental health, we have compiled a list of tried-and-true ways to help you cope, and even thrive, during this very uncertain and unsettling time.
Strategies to help if you are feeling depressed
Depression is a very real issue that affects millions of Americans. When people quarantine themselves, and reduce human contact, they are also more likely to become depressed. Below are a few things that you can do if you notice yourself feeling depressive symptoms increase.
Keep in touch with others
Depression often leads people to isolate from their friends or family. People with depression are also less likely to talk to others about what is truly going on inside. It is important that you reach out and talk to people you trust. Whether it is about your feelings, or about something entirely unrelated, regular contact with others is crucial for your mental health. You may think others don’t care about you, but there are people that do care. Don’t try to get through it by yourself, as that is unnecessarily hard.
Eat well, drink water
When people are experiencing depression symptoms, they commonly start eating unhealthy food, drink less water, and perhaps stop eating all together; that isn’t good. When you starve your body from crucial nutrients, your body cannot properly function, leading to an increase in depression symptom severity. When you don’t drink enough water, you can become sluggish, foggy-headed, and lethargic; these also make depression symptoms worse.
Make sure to drink plenty of water (especially first thing in the morning when your body is slightly dehydrated) and eat healthy foods. If you aren’t eating much, try to increase your consumption of fruit and vegetables. Your body needs food and water to overcome depression. Our speak with our Medical Team about Integrative Health and nutrition services.
Build a daily routine
Depression often robs people of the desire to be productive. Often, people stay in bed far longer, or scroll endlessly on their phone/computer. Humans are designed to be productive, and a daily routine can help tremendously when combating depression. Get up and out of bed at the same time every day, have clear agenda items and a schedule for each day, and do physical activity every day. Without a routine, you may be helping the depression consume your life.
Strategies to help if you are feeling anxious
It is understandable that you may have heightened anxiety during this COVID-19 outbreak. You also may have more things to worry about now (loss of income, quarantine stresses, family illness, etc.). While some worry is harmless, too much can have harmful impacts on your mental health. Below are a few things that you can do if you notice yourself feeling anxiety symptoms increase.
Work to control your thoughts
Anxiety leads people to worry a lot, and people with severe anxiety may be flooded with thoughts, worries, and fears. Anxiety does not go away on its own, but must be controlled and managed. Participating in activities that help you calm your mind are perfect to help you relax your mind, and thus your anxiety. There is overwhelming evidence that Meditation and Yoga are some of the very best things to practice.
Yoga, prayer, walks outside, and showers/baths are also helpful when you need to calm your mind. Use these daily to give your brain a break.
Direct your energy to productive things
Just like a dog that is cooped up inside all day will start to chew the furniture or destroy the house, when you don’t give your energy a productive outlet, it can lead you to be more anxious. Identify a project you want to start or complete, play some music while you organize your closet, or catch up on some reading. We all need something to put our energy into, so you might as well make it work for you instead of against you.
Limit your consumption of Coronavirus-related news and media
While we all need to be informed, the media uses sensationalized titles, images, and topics to hook you in to clicking the link or watching the show. Reading article after article, or watching hours of COVID-19 news may not be beneficial, and may lead to unnecessary panic. Also, to avoid misinformation, consider getting your information from sources such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Health and Human Services, The Federal Reserve, or your local Health Department.
We will get through this pandemic, and we need to be mentally well for ourselves and our loved ones.