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Take Care of Your Mental Health, Too, During This Outbreak

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Apr 3, 2020

Blog-Coping-With-IsolationPart 2 of 2

Our routines are disrupted. We are worried about our health and finances while dealing with this COVID-19 outbreak.

Beyond taking precautions with our physical health, we need to care for our mental well-being during isolation.

Here are some coping strategies:

Limit Reading and Watching the News 

Consuming information from your favorite television network, local newspaper and social media news feed can be helpful. Reporters are doing a great job providing stories on ways to protect yourself and explaining daily (sometimes hourly) developments.

But you should be very careful tuning into cable news all day or constantly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter updates. When news breaks, the focus of attention usually is often on the worst-case scenarios. That can trigger anxiety in all of us.

Also, carefully choose your information sources. Unfortunately, some segments on television news or on social media have bad or misleading information. In some cases, commentators are filtering their comments through a political prism.

Rely on  one or two reliable sources of news. The Center for Disease Control and Infection website is a great resource for updates and precautions.

Keep Everything in Perspective

Not all of the worst-case scenarios are happening in your community and neighborhood. Yes, there are horrible stories about the impact of this virus. The tragedies are real. You should accept the realities of this crisis.

However, you should also be assured that many good developments are happening. Researchers are making tremendous progress toward testing, treatment and prevention. Consume only what you need to know, what’s most relevant to you and particularly what is happening or anticipated in your own community.

Make a Plan For Your Health

Find out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on how you can limit your exposure and write down a plan. Educate yourself about social distancing, protecting yourself when going to the grocery store or pharmacy and handling everything from the newspaper to the mail.

Make an emergency plan that includes lists of telephone numbers and your medication. Chart a schedule on when you likely will need to replenish supplies and how best to get them. Having a game plan takes away anxiety about what to do if conditions worsen. 

Reach Out to Someone Each Day

Make time to call, email or text a friend or family member each day to see how they are doing. You might want to talk about something other than the pandemic. Maybe you just need to vent your concern or anger. Sometimes, validating your worries or concerns is therapeutic. Knowing that someone else feels what you are feeling is helpful.

Try to form an online sharing group of friends or co-workers – and host it on Zoom or other online conferencing platform. Have a regularly scheduled time to meet online. That gives you something to look forward to in the days and weeks ahead.

Take Care Of Yourself

Make your health a priority each day. Focus on sleep, physical exercise and a healthy diet. Find ways to address forms of stress, such as journaling, going for walks or calling a loved one. Having a normal routine reduces stress.  

Engage in Distractions

Look for ways to take your mind off of news and what is happening around the world. Some ideas include:

  • Work on a home improvement project or clean out that closet that needs it. Work on it maybe 30 minutes each day. It will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment when completed. 
  • Take a free online university course. Maybe work on that degree you have wanted to complete.
  • Schedule time for movies or streaming shows on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon and other online services. Don’t forget the popcorn. And remember to turn off your phone.. 
  • ​Most churches have made arrangements for online services. If you practice a religion, find out how to continue connecting and serving.

From all indications, the social distancing practices are going to be recommended for several weeks ahead. Stay inside and take care of yourself - including your emotional health.

Topics: COVID-19