Supporting your mental health and well-being
Mental health and coping during COVID-19
During times of stress and uncertainty, our mental health and well-being can suffer. If you or someone you love is struggling right now, we’re here to help you get through this.
Life can be hectic, so it’s important to check in with and take care of yourself. If you’re struggling, there are a few evidence-based strategies to help safeguard your mental health. And of course, if you need help, reach out — to a trusted friend, loved one or your doctor.
Here are a few ways to take care of your mental health:
Maintain social connections.
To help reduce feelings of social isolation, be sure to stay connected to others. Social distancing means maintaining physical distance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect in other ways. Connect with family, friends or colleagues through text messaging, phone calls and video chats. Get creative and have fun with it by hosting virtual dinner parties or playing games together online.
Maintaining this social connection can help alleviate depression and anxiety-related symptoms.
Get regular physical activity.
Physical activity is a great tool for managing anxiety and stress and can help pass the time when opportunities for other activities are limited.
Whether it’s a walk, jog, online fitness class or dance party with your family, aim to get 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Our bodies release stress-relieving, mood-boosting endorphins when we exercise, which can help boost our mental health. If possible, try to enjoy some time outdoors (be sure to maintain 6 feet of distance from others). The exposure to sunlight and nature can also help boosts those “feel-good” endorphins.
Eat nutritious meals and stay hydrated.
Fueling your body with healthy foods can help improve your physical and mental health. Try to eat a well-balanced diet, including protein-rich foods, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, flaxseeds and nuts are also great options to work into your diet.
And while nourishing your body, don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Maintain healthy sleep habits.
Getting adequate sleep is important for our physical and mental health. So, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene, following habits that help us obtain a restful night’s sleep.
These habits include going to bed at the same time each night and aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep, establishing a relaxing bedtime routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
Have issues getting to sleep? Cut back on caffeinated drinks in the afternoon, limit daytime naps to 30 minutes, shut down all screens an hour before bed or try some relaxing activities before turning in — like a warm bath or a cup of herbal tea.
Establish a routine at home.
Spending more time at home these days? Try waking up at the same time each day, showering and getting ready as if you’re heading out for the day, eating meals at the same time each day and scheduling breaks for enjoyable activities. Remember to be flexible as you find what works for you (and your family).
Make time for self-care.
We’ve all got more time on our hands. And yet, we’re also under a lot of stress.
One way to maintain balance and mental health is to build time for self-care into each day. Self-care includes:
- Making time for activities you love. Whether it’s cooking, knitting, painting or listening to music, do whatever makes you happy.
- Taking breaks from the news and social media. Taking breaks can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed and help you connect with yourself and loved ones.
- Practicing meditation and breathing exercises. Meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down your heart rate and clear your mind. When practiced regularly, these can also buffer the effects of stress, which helps support your immune system.
Here are some more ways you can practice self-care during a quarantine.
Don’t be afraid to seek help for mental health concerns.
If you believe you’re starting to develop symptoms of a mental health condition, or if you have a preexisting mental health condition, make sure you check in with your doctor, letting them know of your symptoms, or if they change or worsen.
If your mental health worsens to the point you have thoughts that life isn’t worth living, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.