COVID-19 – How to Protect your Mental Health

It’s ok to not be feeling yourself today! Be assured there is support and understanding for anything you may be feeling during this uncertain time. We are in this together.

The ongoing news about the pandemic can certainly feel overwhelming at times. Being concerned is reasonable, but for many people it can intensify existing mental health problems, particularly conditions like anxiety and OCD. Below are some HEALTHY STRATEGIES for us all to try.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs

During this time, it is important to look after our mental health.  Here are a few things that you can do to support yourself and your family.

  • Limit the news and be careful what you read.
    • Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better.

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Choose a specific time to check the news and resist the temptation to “cheat”.

  • There is a lot of misinformation swirling around, that can appear very credible.

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Stick to trusted sources of information that are strictly verified such as local government websites

Have breaks from social media and mute things which are triggering.

  • HEALTHY STRATEGY: Mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts.
  • HEALTHY STRATEGY: Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.
  • Avoid burnout.
    • With an uncertain duration of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have downtime.

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Social distancing in a park is a great idea!

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate and try and get plenty of sleep.

HEALTHY STRATEGY: Make time to unwind and try to do other activities that you enjoy.

  • Stay Connected with people.
    • HEALTHY STRATEGY: Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
    • HEALTHY STRATEGY: Be available to listen to others who may need a friendly ear.

5 Steps to deal with anxiety and stress:

  1. Acknowledge: notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  2. Pause: don’t react as you normally do – don’t react at all – pause and breathe.
  3. Pull back: tell yourself this is just the worry talking and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary.  It is only a thought or feeling.  Don’t believe everything you think – thoughts are not statements or facts.
  4. Let go: let go of the thought or feeling – it will pass.  You don’t have to respond to it.  You might imagine it floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  5. Explore: Explore the present moment because right now, in this moment, all is well.  Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing.  Notice the ground beneath you.  Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell – right now.  Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

For parents:

  • Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them.  When parents deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently they can provide the best support for their children.
  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.  Answer questions and share facts in a way that your child can understand
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe and let them know it is ok if they feel upset.  Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media.  Children may interpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines.  If the schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

For further information, blogs and videos on managing stress and anxiety during this difficult time, please click on the following link - https://cmhakelowna.com/coronavirus-managing-stress-anxiety/