SALT LAKE CITY – Infectious disease outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic can be frightening and affect our mental health more than we think. While it is important to stay informed and helpful in order to get advice from trusted sources, there are also many things we can do ourselves to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.
Anyone can agree that the coronavirus pandemic was a stressful time. While many try to follow standard protocols to reduce the spread of the virus, like wearing masks and social distancing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say these recommendations can be the very things that lead to depression, isolation, and loneliness Fear.
Here are some steps you can take to keep your sanity on track during this time.
Maintain a daily routine
When life and its circumstances are unstable, a daily routine is one of the best ways to stabilize and feel more grounded, according to Dr. Gladys Pearson, director of the Musculoskeletal Science and Sports Medicine Research Center. This doesn̵
Know where and how to get treatment
We may consciously know that we are healthy. But subconsciously there can be background anxiety about when or if we (or someone we love) get sick. Not to mention, uncertainty about where and how treatment should be given can create added stress on top of anything else. If you or a loved one gets sick, there are some of these resources that you should bookmark to keep track of things:
- Coronavirus.utah.gov: Find information about COVID-19 – from mental health resources to general (factual) information and all the updates – in the state of Utah.
- Valley Behavioral Health Telehealth: The Salt Lake County-based behavioral health company currently offers remote therapy over the phone as well as drug delivery through ValleyRX. Whether it is COVID-19 or not, this is an essential resource to provide any kind of psychological assistance to you and your loved ones.
- 211utah.org: Access helpful resources on mental health, substance use, and emergency care for children.
- CDC: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the best resources for real updates on COVID-19. Check the CDC on local and national resources for updates or questions.
- WHO: The World Health Organization is another reliable, valid, and accurate resource for all COVID-19 updates.
Make sure you bookmark these resources or post them on your fridge so you never feel unsure where to get help.
Self-isolating, but staying connected
Maintaining your sanity while you must stay home is of the utmost importance. Many of us spend much more time at home and many of our regular social activities are no longer available to us. While isolating yourself (especially if you experience symptoms) is paramount, keeping in touch with our friends and loved ones to avoid depression and loneliness is just as important, according to the UK Mental Health Foundation. If you ever feel lonely, reach out to us. You’re also likely doing the person on the other line a great favor.
Get creative with how you connect
While most of us are familiar with the most common connection methods used today – social media, phone calls, video chat tools like Zoom and Skype – this can get a little mundane after a while. During these times of isolation, we can actually have fun by connecting in new, creative ways.
Try some new connection methods to keep things fun and fresh:
- to write letters. Go back in time when our grandparents bonded. Try writing notes or letters and either mailing them or dropping them on your friends’ doorstep.
- Drive past. For birthdays, celebrations, or just for fun, many people do drive-bys where you drive past a person’s house to visit them from a distance.
- Digital parties. Organize a digital party – whether for a birthday, for a sports game or even to cook dinner together. The digital age has arrived and we can now host and attend parties through video chat platforms like Zoom, which can accommodate up to 100 people with the basic version.
- Online workouts. There are many yoga and fitness trainers who offer classes through Zoom or Instagram and Facebook Live. This format allows you to train with your teacher and friends as if you were with them in real life.
Actively manage your wellbeing
It is impossible to pour from an empty cup. So make sure you are actively working to keep your cup full. This means sleeping well, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods, and exercising. Fortunately, we locals in Utah have access to stunning, remote areas where we can hike, bike, run, and rest in a hammock between two trees. If you ever find yourself feeling down, isolated, or stressed out, a visit to the stunning Wasatch Mountains almost guarantees you will feel good again.
Stick to reliable sources for the facts and limit your time on social media
What we consume and how we consume it affects our prospects tremendously. Try your best to avoid speculation and find reputable sources regarding the outbreak.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed when we read all the negative news these days. If you’ve had a history of trauma or mental health problem, have long-term physical health, or fall into one of the other groups that make you more susceptible to the effects of the coronavirus, keep an eye out for the sources of information you choose to consume. With all of the extra time we have indoors and at home, it can also be very tempting to mindlessly scroll through social media where we can fall prey to consuming inaccurate and biased information. Use a social media monitoring app like Moment that allows you to monitor and limit your time on your accounts.
Know this will happen
Remember, change is the only constant. Mindfulness expert Steven Aitchison said, “Emotional pain shouldn’t be hidden and never mentioned. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only when it is first brought to light.”
Awareness is the first step. As licensed clinical social worker Allison Abrams says in an article for Psychology Today, don’t be afraid to hug your shadows and acknowledge the existence of your pain because only then can the healing process begin. If you need additional support, specialized therapists are available.
Stay grounded, stay strong, and take care of your sanity during this time.