In this time of social distancing, many people are experiencing negative emotions from a lack of the usual activities and connections that stimulate us and give our days meaning and purpose.
The stress of isolation and deprivation may be compounded by financial insecurity and the inability to utilize coping methods we depend on, like gym workouts or religious services.
If you’re experiencing any of the following:
- fear and anxiety
- inability to focus
- interrupted and/or poor quality sleep
- depression and boredom
- anger, frustration, or irritability
- embarrassment or shame related to disease stigma
The American Psychological Association (APA) has suggestions to help you reduce stress and create order out of the chaos.*
It’s great if you’re able to plan ahead but, even if you’re already in isolation, the APA’s recommendations are simple enough for you to put into practice right away.
- Limit news consumption and stick to reliable sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and World Health Organization (WHO) are the most trustworthy organizations for updates concerning COVID-19 research, statistics, and general protocols. Local health and government agencies are best for updates regarding community protocols and closures.
- Establish routines and stick to them. This is important not only for children or parents you may be caring for at home, but also for yourself. Structure, order, and predictability help to promote a sense of normalcy.
- Reach out and touch someone—virtually. Take the initiative to call, text, or set up video chats with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Check in with others throughout the day, especially if you’re feeling down. Even if you’re not feeling down, someone you care about may be. Online book groups, meetups, and other virtual gatherings are also great ways to create and maintain social connections.
An Ounce of Prevention
Just as our psychological health can affect our physical health, our physical health can impact our mental health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while confined at home is critical for maintaining a healthy, positive outlook.
- get enough sleep
- eat as many fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grain products as possible
- exercise in your home or, if you haven’t shown signs of illness or tested positive for COVID-19, outdoors while maintaining social distancing
- avoid drugs and excessive alcohol
- utilize telehealth to find, or continue, psychotherapy
Change Your Mind
When we change our outlook, we unlock our creativity. Often, this allows us to devise new approaches to problem-solving, and discover both external and internal resources.
Here are some suggestions by the APA for shifting your mindset:
- focus on what you can do
- keep a daily gratitude journal
- boost your physical and mental resilience through deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and meditation
- consider the positive reasons for social distancing and how you are helping others by doing so
Read the full article for more COVID-19 coping tools and resources.
*American Psychological Association. (2020). Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe [Webpage].