Eat.Move.Connect. Tip: Protecting your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic – Crow River Media

Posted: May 4, 2020 at 9:53 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

Human beings like certainty. We are hardwired to want to know what is happening when, and to notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or when we dont generally feel safe, its normal to feel stressed. This very action, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.

A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but cant. Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19, known as the coronavirus. We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress. This uncertainty might also connect to our uncertainty about other aspects of our lives, or remind us of past times when we didnt feel safe and the immediate future was uncertain.

In times like these, our mental health can suffer. We dont always know its happening. You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad. You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening. For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.

Its important to note that we are not helpless in light of certain news events. We can always choose our response. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:

1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and its helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash their hands. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you arent on?).

2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and its important not to compare yourself to others. Its OK if youve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because its part of depression.

3. Get outside in nature even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk the other day in my neighborhood. The sun was shining, I got my dose of vitamin D, and it felt good both to get some fresh air and quality time for myself. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.

4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasnt happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindful activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.

5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, its OK to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You dont have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

We are in this together, and help is always available. If you are feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to any of the following:

We shall get through this and we will be stronger. There is always hope.

Mark Jacobson is a peer support specialist who lives in Winona.

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Eat.Move.Connect. Tip: Protecting your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic - Crow River Media

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