Almost every person across the world becomes filled with fear every time they cough or sneeze since the coronavirus outbreak. There has been so much focus placed on the physical concerns of this pandemic. Experts are worried that the large majority of people are neglecting the importance of mental health throughout this chaotic and expanding crisis. Here are five tips for maintaining your mental health amid COVID-19.
1. Social distancing doesn’t equate to social isolation.
While the virus continues to plague people worldwide, social distancing is a necessity for yourself and others. But this doesn’t mean social isolation is necessary— in fact, the evidence speaks to the contrary.
Humans need, and thrive off of, social engagement. You can connect with your friends and family by calling them, using FaceTime, or meeting in Zoom for face-to-face group chats. You are literally one click away from bettering your mental wellbeing.
2. Save money on your prescriptions.
Millions of people in the US were laid off; businesses are shut down and some closed their doors for good. Fearing financial instability can cause anxiety and depression. In fact, people with no previous diagnosis of mental illness are now experiencing dire mental health issues. Taking your prescribed psychiatric, and regular, medications are more critical now than ever.
If your prescription is sitting at the pharmacy but you can’t afford to pick it up—take advantage of prescription discount cards. USARx is a trustworthy website that offers discounted prescription medications from almost every pharmacy. All you have to do is type in the name of your medication and click “search lowest price.” Taking your medications as prescribed is a major aspect of caring for your physical and mental health
3. There’s no shame in therapy.
After the term “Prozac Nation” was coined, following the release of the memoir, less stigma was associated with therapy and medication management. There is no shame in seeing a therapist. If you’ve never engaged in therapy before and you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or debilitating stress, you may consider looking into scheduling a consultation.
Most mental health centers are shut down for the time being, and sadly, we have no clue for how long. The Therapy Group of NYC offers teletherapy sessions, so you can reap the benefits of speaking with a mental health professional regularly, without leaving the safety of your home. Their website states, “To us, your journey isn’t just getting back to ‘normal.’ Let’s get you to your best.” The amount of help you’ll receive from their virtual therapy sessions are endless.
4. Don’t forget to stop and breathe.
Life can become so hectic; we forget to stop and breathe. Your day-to-day breathing is great, in the sense that it keeps you alive. However, if you want to breathe for your mental and emotional wellbeing, there are a few breathwork exercises you can try.
The best type of breathing for decreasing anxiety is yoga, or “ocean,” breathing. First, you relax your facial features, unclench your jaw, and gently close your eyelids. You can lay down or sit comfortably— the choice is yours. Before you begin, place one hand over your heart and the other on top of your lower abdomen. Remember, your lips stay sealed throughout your entire breathing exercise.
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for one second. Exhale slowly, tightening your throat a bit, for five seconds. Hold again. And repeat. With each breath, you want to first fill your belly with oxygen, then fill your chest. Your hands will feel as your stomach inflates and deflates. You may even notice your heart rate starts to lower.
5. Knowing the facts will help you.
You may hear people tell you that they no longer watch the news because it’s too depressing— which is valid and a personal choice. But the CDC claims that knowing the facts will actually help reduce anxiety and stress.
Catching up on what’s going on daily will lessen the amount of time you spend worrying because you’ll already have the answers. Fearing the unknown is said to be the scariest fear of all. Knowing the facts, and making sure they are from reputable websites or TV stations, will lessen your stress somewhat. Don’t forget, just breathe. Community is more important now than ever, and nothing in life is permanent. Together, we will get through this.