The COVID-19 pandemic may bring many changes to your lifestyle, and with it comes uncertainty, changes in daily life, financial stress, and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, whether you will be unemployed, and what it will bring in the future. Information overload, rumors, and misinformation can cause your life to get out of control and it’s not clear what to do.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness. Mental health disorders including anxiety and depression may get worse.
The survey showed that compared with pre-pandemic surveys, the number of American adults reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic has increased significantly. Some people have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, believing that this can help them cope with pandemic fears. In fact, the use of these substances can increase anxiety and depression.
People with substance use disorders, especially those addicted to tobacco or opioids, may experience worse results if they contract COVID-19. This is because these addictions can damage lung function and weaken the immune system, leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease and lung disease, thereby increasing the risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
For all these reasons, it is important to learn self-care strategies and get the care that helps you cope with the needs.
Self-care strategies are good for your physical and mental health and can help you take control of your life. Take care of your body and mind, and connect with others to benefit your mental health.
Take care of your body
Pay attention to your health:
l Enough sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even if you stay at home, stick to your typical schedule.
l Participate in regular sports activities. Regular physical exercise and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Find activities that include sports, such as dancing or exercise apps. Go to areas where you can easily keep your distance from others, such as nature trails or your own backyard.
l Eat healthy. Choose a balanced diet. Avoid eating junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine because it can increase stress and anxiety.
l Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs. If you smoke or e-cigarettes, your risk of lung disease is already higher. Since COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk will increase even more. Using alcohol to cope may make the situation worse and reduce your coping skills. Avoid taking medication to cope unless your doctor prescribes it for you.
l Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for a certain period of time each day, including 30 minutes before going to bed. Make a conscious effort to reduce the time in front of the screen-TVs, tablets, computers and mobile phones.
l Relax and recharge. Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing, help calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Many people benefit from exercises such as deep breathing, Tai Chi, yoga or meditation. Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or read or listen to a book—anything that can help you relax. Choose a technique that suits you and practice it regularly.
Take care of your heart
Reduce stress trigger:
l Maintain your daily routine. Maintaining a regular schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to adhering to a regular bedtime, it is also necessary to maintain consistent schedules for eating, bathing and dressing, work or study, and exercise. Also set aside time for activities you like. This predictability can make you feel more in control.
l Restrict access to the news media. Continued news about COVID-19 from various media will exacerbate people's fear of the disease. Restrict social media that may expose you to rumors and false information. Also restrict reading, listening, or watching other news, but keep abreast of national and local recommendations. Look for reliable sources, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
l Keep busy. Distractions can free you from the negative thought cycles that cause anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies you can do at home, decide on a new project or clean out the closet you promised. Doing positive things to control anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.
l Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life instead of dwelling on how bad you feel. Consider starting each day by listing things you thank you for. Keep hope, work hard to accept the changes that happen, and work hard to see the problem in perspective.
l Use your moral compass or spiritual life to support it. If you draw strength from the belief system, it can bring you comfort during difficult times.
l Set priority. Don't be overwhelmed by creating a list of life-changing things at home. Set reasonable goals every day and outline the steps you can take to achieve them. Every step in the right direction is due to yourself, no matter how small. And realize that some days are better than others.
Connect with others
Build support and strengthen relationships:
l Build connection. If you need to stay at home and keep your distance from others, avoid social isolation. Set aside time every day to establish virtual connections via email, text messages, phone calls or FaceTime or similar applications. If you work remotely from home, ask your colleagues about their work and share coping skills. Enjoy virtual social networking and talking with people at home.
l Do something for others. Find a goal to help those around you. For example, check your friends, family, and neighbors—especially those of the elderly—by email, text message, or phone call. If you know someone who can’t go out, ask if you need something, such as groceries or prescription drugs. But be sure to follow the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, and your government regarding social distancing and group meetings.
l Support family or friends. If family members or friends need to be isolated for safety reasons or need to be isolated at home or in a hospital when they are sick, please come up with ways to keep in touch. For example, this can light up the day through an electronic device or phone or by sending a note.
Identify what is typical and what is not
Stress is a normal psychological and physical response to the needs of life. Everyone responds differently to difficult situations. It is normal to feel pressure and worry during a crisis. But every day there are multiple challenges, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may leave you unable to cope.
Many people may have mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression symptoms during this period. And the feeling may change over time.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious, or scared. You may not be able to focus on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches or trouble sleeping, or you may have difficulty dealing with daily chores.
When these signs and symptoms continue for several days, make you miserable, cause trouble in your daily life, and make it difficult for you to perform your normal duties, it is time to seek help.
Get help when you need it
Hopefully, mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own and cause symptoms to worsen. If you have concerns or worsening mental health symptoms, please seek help when needed and be frank about your performance. To get help, you may need:
Call or use social media to connect with close friends or loved ones-even if it may be difficult to talk about your feelings.
Contact the pastor, spiritual leader, or someone in your faith community.
Contact your employee assistance program (if your employer has one) and get counseling or request a referral to a mental health professional.
Call your primary care provider or mental health professional and ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance. Some may offer options for phone, video or online dating.
Contact organizations such as the National Mental Illness Alliance (NAMI) or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help and guidance.
Continue your self-care strategy
When the pandemic ends, you can expect your current strong feelings to subside, but when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends, the stress will not disappear from your life. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and improve your ability to cope with ongoing challenges in life.