Practically overnight our world has been turned upside down.
Everyone is experiencing disruptions that we would have never anticipated and restrictions on how we live day to day life. These challenges, among the other effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, are difficult on the mind and body.
The Impact of Isolation
In an effort to slow the spread of the virus and protect our friends, family and neighbors, our community and others around the globe are practicing physical distancing.
However, the impact on one’s mental health from staying home is intense and isolation can exploit our vulnerabilities. It can trigger anxiety and foster a lot of new fears. Fears of the unknown. Fears of other people. Fears that we will not be able to weather this storm. And fears about what our new normal will become.
What You Can Do
To pretend that nothing is happening would be detrimental. During this time, it’s critical to acknowledge the potential threats, recognize the actions taken against these threats and learn to accept the multitude of losses we are experiencing.
People naturally respond to stress in different ways. It may be tempting to stick your head in the sand and wait for the pandemic to end, choosing ignorance in an attempt to manage. But information is a powerful tool to staying safe. Even so, we all have our limits. The other extreme response is to gather all the information you can find, which, unfortunately, may ultimately render you overwhelmed and interfere with your functioning. So how can you find the right balance?
While this situation has eliminated or drastically changed many resources for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we have some concrete suggestions for managing the impact of this global crisis on your well-being.
Ways to Manage Your Mental Health While Physical Distancing
1. Stick to a routine.
It may be a different routine than before, but having a routine for your day to day life during this time will help you focus on activities that are beneficial to your well-being.
2. Acknowledge the impact.
The impact is real for us as individuals and as a community. It takes a lot of energy to deny that something is happening when it actually is. Instead, use that energy to acknowledge the impact and manage your response to it.
3. Keep it real.
We become disappointed when we have unrealistic expectations. We can’t make all these changes and expect life to continue as before. So set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish and what life will be like during this time.
4. Find little ways to maintain control.
A lot of the anxiety that many people are experiencing right now comes from the loss of control we’re feeling in the face of the pandemic. But you can always find ways that you still have control if you look for them. Even something as simple as deciding to enjoy a cup of water while looking out the window for a few minutes can feel powerful.
5. Engage in some healthy denial.
Find productive ways to be entertained and distracted for part of the day. This may include limiting the time you spend on social media or reading distressing news.
6. Boost confidence.
What can you do that makes you feel competent? When everything is changing and new, it is hard to feel confident in your decisions. By engaging in an activity that you do know how to do, you can instantly boost your confidence.
7. Stay connected.
Humans are social creatures. Our connections help us cope in the most difficult times. It’s amazing how powerful the sound of a loved one’s voice can be, even from afar. Pick up the phone, use a video chat service or write letters to friends and family.
8. Get active.
Get your endorphins going any way you can. Turn on music and dance. Take a few laps around your living room. Google at-home exercise and yoga videos. Get outside and do yardwork or go on a mindful walk.
9. Keep trying.
We will only move forward as we so desire. It might take work to acclimate to this temporary normal, but as long as we keep trying, we will succeed.
The threats are overwhelming, and the supports we need have dwindled. If this pandemic and isolation are causing you to feel extreme emotions, depression or anxiety, there is still help available. For more information about seeking therapy services during this time, contact Sparlin Mental Health today by filling out our online form or calling us at 314-531-1155.
Remember: Even when we’re apart, we are all in this together.