Mental Health and COVID-19
If you or your family members are feeling nervous or anxious about the coronavirus pandemic, here is some advice that may give all of you some comfort.
1) Avoid or limit information coming in
We all want to keep up to date, but the need to check and read the latest updates can become compulsive, feeding anxiety. Try having a news detox, or allocating yourself a time limit for reading or watching the news. Get your news from sources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). If you’re really worried about missing something crucial, you can always tell friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency situation in order to keep you informed.
2) Focus on what you can do
While there is a lot of uncertainty at this point, we do know that there are things that we can do like washing our hands, limiting contact with others, and avoiding travel if possible. We can also look out for others by calling neighbors and friends and checking in with them. While we do want people to avoid large groups, we are not alone in this so reach out via technology to maintain these healthy relationships.
3) Introduce an absolute ban on Googling symptoms
Dr. Google is not, and never will be, your friend. Nor will message-boards and forums. Try to remember that people visit these places when they have reason to be concerned. Once you start understanding it’s a skewed lens, you’ll be better able to put things in perspective.
4) Try a countering technique
This is a cognitive behavioral therapy exercise which involves giving a persistent thought the courtroom treatment, by confronting it with a rational counter-statement. For example, if your persistent thought is something like, “Everyone I love will die from this virus,” you can counter it with factual statements such as, “Actually, most people who get COVID-19 are likely to make a full recovery, and that’s assuming mom, dad, and my little sister will even catch it at all.” As my mother always says: “Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true.”
5) Do some exercise
Even if it’s just jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups or walking in place, exercise will help get the adrenaline out of your system and channel the panic elsewhere.
6) Breathing and grounding exercises
Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness and mediation, yoga, and grounding exercises utilizing our five senses can help bring reduce your anxiety and help you stay more present in the moment.
7) Stick to your routine or develop a new one
Continue to do your daily chores, self-care, exercise, eat healthy and relax. If you can go to work, do so. If you are working from home, give yourself breaks throughout the day to help you stay on task better. If you are not working and the kids are home, set up a schedule with them that includes homework as needed, breaks, exercise, and fun.
8) Allocate yourself a daily ‘worry period’
Give yourself half an hour to worry about this to your heart’s content, and then you have to go and do something else.
9) Treat yourself
Anything that will give you a little boost can help. It doesn’t need to involve spending money: you can also cook something nice, have a hot bath, or listen to a song you love.
10) Remember that your anxious state isn’t permanent
When you are in it, anxiety always feels as though it will never end, but it will. It’s hard to remember this, but do try. While we will all experience anxiety during this period, the more we can be aware of this and utilize these effective coping skills, the healthier we will be. Remember, be kind to yourself.
Mental Health and COVID-19 Resources
Resources for immediate help
Trained professional are available 24/7 to help with crisis and resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved one, and the practices for professionals
Text "HOPELINE" to 741741
Serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information through text messaging.
Disaster Distress Helpline
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) provides crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S. experiencing distress or other behavioral health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including public health emergencies.
Crisis Text Line
Text MHA to 741741 and you’ll be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line provides free, text-based support 24/7.
The Trevor Project
Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.
A national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.
If you need assistance finding food, paying for housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services, visit 211.org or dial 211 to speak to someone who can help. Run by the United Way.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
For any victims and survivors who need support, call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Below is a list of national websites that have specific information on ways to manage mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also offer fact-based information about the disease, how it spreads, and what you should do to keep yourself, your family and your community safe.
- Taking care of your behavioral health: Tips for social distancing, quarantine, and isolation during an infectious disease outbreak
Apps for wellness, relaxation, and mindfulness
Apps to help you cultivate a mindfulness lifestyle
Stop, breathe and think
A friendly app to guide people through meditations for mindfulness & compassion. Download today on IOS, Android or Web. For Kids and Adults
Color Therapy is an app for everyday people, from all walks of life, to de-stress and unwind through a social coloring experience. The in-app community benefits from friendly, unconditional support when voicing their worries, anxiety, or mental health battles, all while creating beautiful artworks to share with the world.
Join millions learning to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. This app is available only on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Calm is a leading app for meditation and sleep. Join the millions experiencing lower stress, less anxiety, and more restful sleep with our guided meditations
Learn the life-changing skills of meditation in just a few minutes a day with Headspace. Find hundreds of sessions on physical health, personal growth, and stress
Simple Habit Inc.
Simple Habit is a 5-minute meditation app designed to help busy people stress less, achieve more, and live better.
A mindfulness and meditation app that offers a series of motivations, daily texts, audio clips, and longer-term projects, all of which focus on self-reflection yet keep things satisfyingly upbeat.