Humans are resilient beings, with a long history of dealing with unfamiliar diseases — from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic to the 2002 SARS outbreak. However, COVID-19 is unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. And with the quarantine, loss of our freedom, financial security, and other necessary resources, many of us find our resilience waning.
Doctors at Medstar Washington Hospital Center advise that there are small things that can help us manage our mental health during this pandemic:
Take a deep breath. Breathe deeply, ten times, through the nose, and exhale slowly through the mouth with pursed lips. It is recommended that this be done daily, as part of a routine and also whenever anxiety levels start to rise. Breathing techniques can help us calm down and give our brains time to pause, reset, and slow down.
Focus on what you can control. Anxiety can set in when we feel as if we’re losing control. The news concerning COVID-19 changes daily, and daily updates can be alarming, but we must try not to focus on what we can’t control, and instead think about things we can do now. Short time planning can help, try taking one day at a time, or even hour by hour to help change our outlook.
Do things that make you happy. Being homebound allows us time to discover or rediscover hobbies or skills we had little time to pursue. The sky is the limit, and we can use this time to learn or do something we’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to do.
Stay connected with your loved ones and friends. Social distancing doesn’t mean isolation. Technology makes staying in touch so easy, be it by phone, email, or social media. We can reach out and see one another with the use of Apps such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Goggle Duo. Reaching out goes a long way to provide reassurance that someone is there.
Take a break from social media and the news for a bit. It’s an excellent idea to limit the time spent listening or reading about COVID-19. Turning off the barrage of information can be good for your peace and as well as your mental health.
Help others. Doing for others is an excellent way to care for ourselves, as showing concern for others may help improve our outlook. Checking on elderly neighbors and volunteering, if able to, can counteract the effects of stress, anger, anxiety, and be good for our overall psychological well-being.
Most of all, continue to follow the safety recommendations and remember to stay calm and focused; there is a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and we need to be sane and whole once it is over.