Protect Your Mental Health
At APD, we’ve always cared about your health. But how should you stay healthy when everything is suddenly so different?
Welcome to Community Care News, a free resource from APD designed to help you know how to stay healthy as a very different future unfolds for all of us. Here we will share tips about food, exercise, sleep, and other issues important to improve your health in simple but important ways every day.
Community Care News Edition #4: Protect Your Mental Health
We are living in unprecedented times, and as we all try to stay as physically healthy as possible, we need to keep tabs on our mental health as well. Self-isolation and social distancing can take a toll on us all. It’s easy to be overtaken by worries about illness, finances, employment, and the state of the world.
It’s completely natural to feel stressed, anxious, or afraid right now. One thing to keep in mind is that you do have some control over these feelings. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to improve your own mental health.
Reduce your anxiety by reducing your risk.
The more control you have over your physical health, the less anxious you’ll feel. And the good news is that there are many things you can do to decrease your risk of getting sick. According to the CDC, taking these precautions will help you and your community stay healthy.
- Clean your hands often
- Stay home as much as possible
- Wear a cloth facemask when in public
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
Limit media exposure and stick with reliable sources.
While it’s important to stay informed, it’s also true that too much media coverage of COVID-19 can actually increase your stress levels. Limit the amount of time you spend watching, reading, or listening to the news—and that includes social media. Choose one or two trusted sources (such as the CDC) to visit once a day, then disconnect from the news and do something enjoyable or productive. If you can get some fresh air during the day, all the better.
Create a sense of predictability.
In a world where most things feel uncertain, it helps to create your own sense of control and routine. Try setting a daily schedule with achievable goals to combat this sense of uncertainty. For example, wake up at the same time every day. Have a routine for making and eating a healthy lunch. Schedule time for self-care. With less external forces setting your schedule, taking control can be a huge step in making you feel better.
Keep active, connect with others, and try something new!
It is possible to have fun while we’re practicing social distancing. Consider activities such as flying a kite, taking a hike, or going for a bike ride. These may look different due to social distancing, but they are still important. The goal is to have activities which you happily anticipate.
Connecting with others is also incredibly important right now. Fight feelings of isolation by calling or video chatting with family and friends. Most smartphones allow video calls but there are other options to achieve virtual face-to-face connections, including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts.
Try these mental exercises listed on Psychology Tools to help you manage worry and anxiety in these uncertain times. Or try coloring! Coloring for adults became popular a few years ago and many find it to be therapeutic. Other simple ways to destress include puzzles, board games, and word games. These are all healthy ways you can create a sense of order and routine in your days.
Reach out when you need help.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to your primary care provider, a mental health professional, or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness NH Resource Line at info@NAMINH.org or (800) 242-6264 (press 4).
For New Hampshire residents, calling 211 connects to specially trained Information and Referral Specialists who can help with the most up-to-date resources on nearly everything, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (For those outside of New Hampshire, call (866) 444-4211.)
If you're feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or use the webchat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
Health care workers, frontline workers, and first responders in the Upper Valley can book mental health therapy support sessions for free at https://uvcovidrelief.org/.
Want more? Check out these articles…
- COVID-19 and your mental health. Mayo Clinic, April 2, 2020
- 3 ways to protect your mental health during – and after – COVID-19. World Economic Forum, April 13, 2020
- Behavioral Health During COVID-19. New Hampshire DHHS, April 2020
- COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide National Alliance on Mental Illness. April 2020
- Managing Anxiety and Boosting Family Resilience in Uncertain Times, Family First Psychotherapy, April 2020