Maintaining Mental Health Through Covid 19
As I write this article, many of us are finding a new normal – one that is a far cry from where we were a month ago. We may be working remotely from home, along with our kids who are attending school “at home”. Maybe we are quarantined to our homes, or we are out working with a slim workforce or we have lost our jobs, all of these experiences drive home how we are missing physical contact with those we love and care about and how we may be feeling isolated, worried and not sure what to do.
COVID-19 and the work to contain it has meant many sacrifices for each of us. Financially, we don’t know how things are going to be managed. Physically, we are doing what we can to keep our immune system healthy. Emotionally, we are trying to keep reality in check managing our natural responses in a way to ward off fear and anxiety from creeping in. Keeping ourselves physically in check is certainly our goal. Possibly more challenging may be maintaining good emotional health. This goal will take as much or more work as maintaining the physical health.
For those who may be experiencing stress, anxiety and depression for the first time, realize that this response is a perfectly natural response. Anything new and different brings stress to our life and when it is a full disruption of our life, it raises our anxiety and we find ourselves in fight or flight mode. Others may go to freeze, too numb to even be in fright or flea. We may be reactive and easily become panicked. With all of this comes a depletion of the natural chemical levels in our body, setting us up for possible depression.
Some strategies you can implement in your daily life to help maintain mental health would be a lot of similar things that would also be good for your physical health. First, try hard to keep a regular schedule. This includes good sleep hygiene, with regular hours to retire at night and get up in the morning. Get ready for the day. Eat healthy foods. Set work hours. Schedule activity and self-care time.
Structuring your day and having routine helps to maintain a semblance of order. With order comes feelings of safety and with feelings of safety, you can put down some of the stress, anxiety and reactivity. You can move into a calm place where you have regular things happening again, even if it is a different regular, a different normal.
Other steps to maintaining good mental health include staying connected. Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t have people in our life. If we are learning anything from this situation, it may be that we are socially connected beings, interdependent upon each other. We need each other. Being isolated or quarantined in our home means we have to put extra effort to find ways of connecting. We can use this technology that has come front and center all of sudden, to connect with our loved ones, friends and support systems. Instead of making that regular phone call, change it to Face time so you can see the person. Access your close people and talk to them about your fears and worries. Bring your network, your inner circle, close and center in new ways.
Also find activities that take you away from technology. Read that book you have had sitting around for a month, play a board game, start a puzzle, take a walk, meditate, sit outside near a tree, or journal about the journey we are on. Get creative for finding ways to have soul nourishment. It will help your mental health and you will feel better.
Spend some time in gratitude every day. Really look for those true blessings you have each day. It might be as simple as being grateful you were able to get some crème for your coffee, or enjoying the sun, or feeling grateful for those people in your life who continue to maintain their health. Gratitude is good for the immune system, helping us stay healthy both physically and mentally.
If you have history of a mental health condition, you want to continue to maintain your treatment and medication during this time. Many mental health providers are offering Telehealth, which means you can access services from your home. It is important to follow your treatment plan and implement coping skills you and your mental health practitioner have developed. Continuing prescribed medications is extremely important. If your symptoms change, call your provider’s office to schedule a virtual visit through Telehealth.
Yes, our new normal has had some rough bumps as we find our way. Take time to check in with yourself and see how you are managing the stress. If you are in reaction mode, take some time to meditate, breathe deeply, give yourself permission to have your moments. Then make a choice for your betterment here, right now, in this moment. It is all we really have.
Tags: Home Quarantine, mental he-19alth through COVID, shelter in place and mental health
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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