The coronavirus pandemic is stressing our society like no calamity has in our lifetimes. To prevent the virus from overwhelming our health care system, public health authorities across the nation have asked people to engage in “social distancing” and, if potentially infected or exposed, “self-quarantining.” These measures, while draconian, can save lives. By slowing the spread of the virus, we will relieve burden on hospitals. Doctors and nurses will be able to cope with the cases that do come in. Patients in need of ventilators and medical attention will be able to get care.
But these extreme measures—and the uncertainty of the pandemic—risk creating a parallel mental health crisis. Here are things you can do to help yourself and your loved ones.
Make Use of Teletherapy, If Possible
Many insurers are covering the costs of teletheraphy during the pandemic. Just talking to someone—expressing your fears and coming up with coping strategies—can blunt some of the affects of the isolation. (But use this tool wisely—see here.)
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Depending on your situation, try to get fresh air and sunshine on a daily basis. For instance, take a stroll around the neighborhood or park, while distancing yourself from other people. Eat healthy foods—high in protein and good fats and low in sugar and refined carbs. Get enough sleep. Take naps as needed. And avoid doing projects or activities—like racing bicycles or home improvements—that could lead to physical harm.
Use a journal to express gratitude for small things that make you feel happy. You can also outline strategies for keeping yourself safe and sane—and to work through difficult feelings you’re having about the situation.
Now is the time to break out those electronic devices! FaceTime friends and relatives, especially those who are isolated or sick. Give back. Instead of binge-watching Tiger King, binge-FaceTime old friends. You’ll feel better for doing so.
Our team wishes you well during this unprecedented challenge. We will get through this, collectively, and our community will be stronger and more connected for it.