Mental Health Challenges Presented By Covid-19

A bit about fear, anxiety and social distancing along with some tips to maintain mental health during a worldwide pandemic.

With every passing hour comes new information regarding the Coronavirus not only in the US but all over the world. The results of this dangerous and incredibly contagious flu strain have been astonishing. From stay at home orders to automobile factories distributing respirators instead of radiators. Now more than ever our world has been supporting each other and coming together to "flatten the curve" and allow life as we know it to continue.

We have been ordered to stay at home in order to control the spread of the Coronavirus. This means leaving schools, workplaces, and cities completely empty. No school, no work, no gym, no going out on the town, and with the most recent update, no outdoor beaches or parks. For each person this causes a different set of anxieties to pop up. For some, maybe it is the fact they are responsible for their children while trying to work from home, for others maybe it is having no work at all, or maybe it is the fear of isolation and loneliness that is beginning to creep in. What about the fear of the unknowns in the matter creating anxiety we might have never experienced before? These are all new challenges we are learning how to cope with each day during the quarantine.

The stay at home order can almost seem like a violation of rights. The government is taking away our freedom in a sense. The closure of outdoor resources has been a hard pill to swallow. Many people use hiking, running, biking, and other outdoor activities in very healthy ways to maintain physical and mental health. The cancelation of concerts, weddings funerals, and graduations have been disrupting people's plans in big ways. However, I challenge you to think of the stay at home order as more of a social duty and a chance to be a part of the solution rather than a restriction or a punishment. This is new to everybody and we all need to work together in order to allow our world to continue to flow.

When social distancing starts to mean isolation we need to try and take control of our own mind and bodies. A lack of social interaction has been linked to depression causing fatigue, lack of motivation, negative self-talk, social anxiety, and an overall lower sense of the quality of life (Novotney, 2019). It almost seems inevitable when we are no longer allowed out of our own homes. However, there are ways to cope with these strange times.

Coping with #Corona

-Keep in contact with friends and family members. We are lucky to have the technology we do in order to face time, call, text, and send photos and videos to the people we love. Try to get in a minimum of two meaningful conversations a day. Even if it means calling your mom to chat about how long it has been since you have put pants on or what new docuseries you are obsessed with (we all know it's #TigerKing).

-Keep an active lifestyle. Yes, the gym may be closed and again, thanks to technology, they are offering free online classes to help you stay active and healthy (check some great options here

-Learn a new skill, hobby, or work toward achieving a goal. Keep your mind working. Challenge yourself and use this time to your advantage. This can include the kids, a spouse, or even yourself. If you leave this quarantine with no new skill, hobby, or goal then ask yourself if it was really time you were lacking or simply the discipline.

-Put healthy food in your body. Going out to eat is not an option anymore, challenge yourself to make meals and learn new recipes to share with family and friends. (Have dinner a dinner party with friends where you all make the same meal and Zoom together while you eat!)

-Pick up a pen. Journal about how you are feeling during this time. We are living through a major historic event. It will be therapeutic for you now, and a great resource for you to look back on in 20 years when your kids want to know what it was like to live through the Covid-19 quarantine.

-Maybe it is rest that you need. Sleep in, read a book, watch a movie. Let yourself accept the reality of what is going on. Practice good self-care. If this is the case, and you feel this time is a blessing to be able to slow down then use that to your advantage. Listen to your body.

Please comment with ways you have found helpful in coping with this worldwide pandemic, or with any questions or comments regarding the quarantine and how to stay mentally healthy during this scary and confusing time.

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