Parkland Medical Center - March 19, 2020

With news of COVID-19 filling every channel and conversation, it’s no surprise that you may be feeling some strain on your mental health. Anxiety, fear, stress and worry can easily take control at times like these.

Although it may be challenging, maintaining mental wellness is crucial to keeping you and your family healthy. Below are some tips to help you cope with the mental stress of COVID-19.

Take care of you

With school canceled and work-from-home policies in place, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a crowded house. While we need to take care of our loved ones, it’s just as important to take time for your own health.

  • Meditate – Try setting aside 10 minutes a day to clear your head.
  • Go for a walk – Getting outside can help boost your mood and keep you moving while the gym is closed.
  • Keep a food journal – Eating healthy can help boost your immune system. Review your daily meals to see if there is room for improvement.
  • Get plenty of sleep – Aim for at least eight hours a night.

Check in with others

Social distancing is critical in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, but it can also take a toll on our mental health. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can stay social at home.

  • Use technology to connect – Try setting up a video chat with a friend or family member.
  • Make a phone call – Call a loved one to check in and let them know you care about them and their emotional wellbeing.
  • Write a letter – Tell a friend or family member how much they mean to you, or share what’s going on in your daily life.
  • Find an old friend – You know that person you’ve been meaning to reach out to for months, but haven’t had the time? Connect with them via phone or email.

Engage and connect wisely

Staying positive can be hard during times like these, so it’s important to take note of who and what you are connecting with every day.

  • Video chat for fun activities – Video chats don’t always have to be about catching up and talking about the latest news. “Join” your friends or family for an ice cream dessert or impromptu concert.
  • Review your social media habits – Social media channels can quickly fill up with negative stories and comments, so try to spend less time browsing them. When you do check in, aim to follow positive people and messages.
  • Revisit happy memories – Create an online photo album from your vacation last summer or a recent family outing and share it with your loved ones.
  • Learn a new hobby – Now is the time to pick up a new instrument, learn how to paint or try a new cooking technique. If you’re not sure where to start, search YouTube for instructional videos.
  • Find “old fashioned” entertainment – When was the last time you had a game night with your family? Pull out board games, puzzles and cards for some old-school fun.

Spend time relaxing

Recharging our minds and bodies can help us feel refreshed and able to take on the challenges ahead. Whether you’re doing it alone or as a family, make sure you are setting aside time to relax.

  • Plan a dance party – Get the family together and have a dance party at home, complete with themed music, food and decorations.
  • Get outside and garden – Spending time outside can help clear your head. Plus, you can get the kids involved by having them help plant and label sections of the garden.
  • Open a book – Try to escape into a good read for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Take a bath – Pull out the bubble bath, candles and relaxing music.
  • Catch up on some TV – Find a series you’ve been wanting to binge or clear out the DVR that has been piling up with shows.
  • Tackle some chores – If you find it relaxing, clean out the junk drawer, organize your pantry or finish painting that bedroom.

Don’t face mental stress alone

If COVID-19 is taking a toll on your mental health, remember that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or loved one to talk. Maintaining personal relationships and human contact — even if it’s virtual — is essential during times like these.