Informed, Not Inundated: 6 Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During a Pandemic

Schools are closed and many businesses are shuttered until further notice. As adults, we may be worried about maintaining our jobs, or being a simultaneous full-time employee and full-time caregiver/teacher/friend to our children who are home from schools. Nearly everyone’s schedule is disrupted, and that’s enough to make us all a little on edge. Add in the fact that we’re facing a worldwide pandemic, and it’s the perfect equation for anxiety, depression or downright panic. (We’ve toggled between all three.) We’re in uncharted territory here, we get it. There’s no 20-second handwashing guide to make sure our mental and emotional health is up to par, but we’ve laid out a few tips to help ease feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Widen Your News Scope

Tune in to bits and pieces of Coronavirus coverage from a variety of news sources. It’s no secret that news stations may present slanted coverage, one way or another. Widen the lense with which you intake news. If you typically only watch one station, the information they’re relaying is going to seem like all the information there is. Try a few different TV stations, news sites, or podcasts to get your information. And no, Facebook does not count as a news source. In fact, just scroll right on past those COVID-19 posts.

Turn Off The News

There, we said it. Sometimes, too much news is too much news. Have set times of the day when you aren’t refreshing for the latest headlines or tuning in to the top of the hour updates. Turn your phone off or put it in a different room to get a break. We know the Guvna’ has asked us to stay inside as much as possible, and we agree. But also, get outside. Get some fresh air, even if it’s just on your deck or in your backyard. Feeling the sun shining on your face can really make a positive impact on our emotional well-being. 

Get Back to the Basics

Get a good night of rest. Move your body in whatever way feels good to you. Eat a sensible diet. These things are the foundation of health for a reason, because they work. They balance us. If you’re doing these things and they’re not helping, by all means, seek help. Many therapists are continuing to check in via video conference, call or text. Try a meditative phone app like HeadSpace or Calm, or try a guided meditation to help focus your thoughts.

Connect With Others

Remember when we had the option of turning down plans? Those were the days. Or, better yet, canceling at the last minute. We promise we won’t ever do that again when this is over. If you’re social distancing, it’s likely that you aren’t seeing many people besides your immediate family. And at this point, maybe we’re all getting a little sick of seeing the same faces. Invite friends to a virtual hang out, like Houseparty, a group video chat. FaceTime, Marco Polo, call, text or email friends and family you would like to reconnect with. If you have the option to video, take it. Sometimes looking into someone else’s eyes, even through a computer screen, can make us feel a lot less alone.

Pick Up A New Hobby

There is something to be said for the notion of creating more than consuming. Take time to use your creative energy daily. Feeling like you don’t have any creative energy? Time to pick up a new hobby! Many businesses are offering free or discounted online tutorials. Try hand-lettering, learning the craft of baking an artisan sourdough loaf, or something else you’ve wanted to try.

Create Certainty

When things feel unsteady and uncertain, say… in the time of a global crisis… it’s important to create certainty where you can. Do your part to keep you and your family safe by following the Center for Disease Control guidelines. Create a routine as much as possible. Hone in on a self-care routine, whether that’s a 10-step skin care regimen or 30 minutes of journaling, a routine can help you feel tethered. 

Maintain Your Mental Health Routine

Coronavirus presents new challenges for maintaining your mental health routine; getting prescriptions refilled may take longer, or more phone calls to get the right medications. So try to take that into consideration when you’re running low. And if the thought of navigating that overwhelms you, ask a trusted friend or family member. Many counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists are offering services over the phone or video call. The experience may be different than normal, but the result will hopefully be the same. Many of us know, from personal experience, how debilitating mental health struggles can be, and unfortunately, in a pandemic, those struggles may only be intensified.  

Our world has never faced a crisis quite like this before, which can also heighten our anxieties. So let’s be kind to ourselves (and others) during this time. To ease feelings of anxiety and isolation, try to remember that the entire world, millions of people, are sharing the same experience. We’re all in it together. This time is difficult for everyone, but taking time to make mental and emotional health as much of a priority as physical health, can help us emerge stronger, more empathetic, more attuned people. And the world can always use more of that.

What have you found helps with your anxiety or depression during this time? Share your tips in the comments below. 

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Courtney Daybell

Courtney Daybell is a wife and has three kids, three years old and under. After a hiatus, she is excited to be writing again, and enjoys sharing some of Salt Lake’s finer things with 24SLC readers. She enjoys Diet Coke, true crime podcasts and is on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

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