Tips & Advice: Mental Health and COVID-19
Uncertainty seems to be the keyword in today’s world. The current COVID-19 pandemic has heightened uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, and physical and mental health. Yet as human beings, we crave security. We want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives and well-being. Fear and uncertainty can leave people feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over your life direction. It can drain you emotionally and trap you in a downward spiral of endless “what-ifs” and worst-case scenarios about what tomorrow may bring.
Even risk-takers have a limit when dealing with insecurity and uncertainty. If you feel overwhelmed by uncertainty and worry, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone. It’s also important to realize that no matter how helpless and hopeless you feel, there are steps you can take to better deal with uncontrollable circumstances, alleviate your anxiety, and face the unknown with more confidence.
Stay informed—but don’t obsessively check the news
Staying informed is necessary, especially regarding what you need to do to follow advised safety precautions to do your part to help stem the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and sensationalistic coverage that only feeds into fear and exacerbates stress levels. Be discerning about what you read and watch and only rely on trustworthy news sources for information.
Focus on the things you can control
This is a time of massive upheaval. There are so many things outside of our control right now. Not being in control is difficult, and you may be tempted to search the internet for answers endlessly. But focusing on the things we can’t control will only contribute to feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
When you feel yourself getting caught up in fear of what might happen, try to shift your focus to things you can control. For example, you can’t control how severe the coronavirus outbreak is in your community, but you can take steps to reduce your risk (and the risk you’ll unknowingly spread it to others).
Stay connected—even when physically isolated
Evidence shows that many people with coronavirus—particularly young, seemingly healthy people—don’t have symptoms but can still spread it. That’s why the most significant thing that most people can do right now to make a positive difference is to practice physical distancing. But that’s not easy because humans are inherently social beings who thrive on connection. Isolation and loneliness can intensify anxiety and depression, and even impact our physical health. That’s why it’s important to stay connected as best we can and reach out for support when we need it, even as we cut back on in-person socializing.
Fortunately, scientists have determined that humans are also a highly adaptable species. And people have quickly adapted to the situation by staying connected using online platforms when accessible and keeping in touch by phone. Remember, though, not to let the coronavirus dominate every conversation. It’s essential to take breaks from stressful thoughts about the pandemic and enjoy each other’s company—to laugh, share stories, and focus on other things going on in our lives.
Focus on the present
Uncertainty is one of the driving forces that cause stress, and it’s often centered on worries about the future and all the bad things you can anticipate happening. It can leave you feeling hopeless and depressed about the days ahead, exaggerate the scope of problems, and even paralyze you from taking action to overcome a problem. There’s no way of knowing or predicting what might happen, so try to switch your attention to what’s happening right now. Being fully connected to the present can help you interrupt and banish the negative assumptions and catastrophic predictions running through your mind.
Get help when you need it
You don’t have to struggle with anxiety and depression alone. Although it may be difficult to imagine, things won’t always seem hopeless if you get the right help. Whether you’re looking for a therapist or are seeking a support group, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health stands ready to help. We’ll do everything we can to make sure barriers don’t stand in the way of ensuring that you are mentally healthy, even during this extraordinarily trying time.