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Take extra care of your mental health

Community news | Friday, May 1, 2020

You're preoccupied and having difficulty focusing. Your sleep isn't great. And you aren't eating as well as you know you should.

You may be stressed out by COVID-19.

During a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is common for everyone to experience increased levels of distress and anxiety. Frontline health care professionals and those caring for people in needs are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects. As you strive to balance the duty of caring for others with concerns about your own well-being and that of your loved ones, don’t forget to take some steps to ease the pressure on yourself.

Recognize the signs of stress

How do you know if your mental health is suffering during this outbreak? You may be feeling stressed if you're having

  • Fearful thoughts about your health and the health of your family and friends
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in your eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A worsening of chronic health problems
  • A worsening of depression or other mental health conditions
  • A rise in your use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Take positive steps to feel better

Follow these tips to cope with stressful times:

  • Wean yourself off constant news. This can be as easy as turning off the TV. You also may want to disable your phone's news alerts. (You can always turn them back on later.)
  • Check in with family and friends. Call them. Have a video chat. Meet with your book club over a group meeting app.
  • Keep to healthy daily routines as much as you can. Whatever you do for self-care, keep up with those habits. They can help you feel more in control.
  • Move more. Exercise is a great way to improve both mental and physical health.
  • Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment, rather than worrying about what comes next. Breathe deeply and accept the "now" without judgment.
  • Put free time to good use. Listen to an audiobook. Draw or paint. Make notes in a journal. Plan your summer garden.
  • Celebrate small wins. Keep track of moments of gratitude and joy.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Alliance on Mental Illness