Fear and anxiety around the unknowns of the coronavirus are mounting.
As people limit their social interactions, the isolation and loneliness that come from being in quarantine can be taxing. In fact, a medical journal, The Lancet, recently released a report around the mental health concerns associated with quarantine, and they include: fears of infection, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, lack of information and financial loss, to name a few. Not only are these concerns heightened for those with preexisting mental health issues, but they can be a serious concern even for those who had a clear psychological bill of health just a month ago.
The CDC has a dedicated COVID-19 how to manage anxiety and stress page. On it, they warn that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can take shape in a variety of forms, including:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
And, where work might usually be a welcomed distraction for some, people are now working from home where their partners and children are also working or completing at-home schooling, or their hours have been reduced or their job has been cut altogether. For those still working, camaraderie in the workplace has been reduced to messaging apps and video calls, although many organizations are taking proactive measures to try to stay connected by hosting virtual happy hours or by participating in virtual fitness breaks throughout the workday.
Whether you are working or not, here are four tips to help you stay positive and preserve your mental health during these difficult times:
- Create a new routine. Routines give people purpose and a sense of direction. Whether you are working during the COVID-19 outbreak or not, focus on creating a new daily routine, complete with time to get ready in the morning and time to exercise. Create a task list of what you need to get done each day to provide structure and goals.
- Limit your media intake. The news can be really overwhelming, in general, let alone during a pandemic. Be mindful of how many news alerts you are taking in throughout the day and limit your consumption of news in the morning and at night. It’s good to be in the know but it’s not good to feel overwhelmed. Know your limits and when you may be consuming too much.
- Connect with friends and family. Many have the unique opportunity of being home with their partners and children during quarantine. Enjoy the extra time you have with loved ones – have family dinners, play board games or go for a family walk (if permitted). Make use of technology, like FaceTime or Skype, to connect with friends and family.
- Take it one day at a time. COVID-19 is baffling the scientific community, the business community, the stock market and people, in general, worldwide. The hashtag #inthistogether has been trending on social media and it represents a sign of the times as well as a sign of hope – nobody knows exactly what will happen next, but we are all in this together. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by thinking too far into the future. The one thing that is for certain is that this is temporary, and we will get through it.
Stay healthy and stay positive!