• Kate Foster

6 WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN A CRISIS

Depending where you live, you've likely been stuck at home (and the immediate area) for at least a few weeks. Besides the fear we're all feeling for our health and the health of our loved ones, many of us are also dealing with feelings of loneliness, sadness, and anxiety stemming from being forced to isolate. After all, humans are social creatures, and we thrive when interacting with others in our community! Factor in job and financial worries, and it's enough to make even the most positive person feel like they're drowning in negativity.


If you feel like you're struggling to keep your head above water, know that you're not alone. Here are some ways to cope during this difficult time.


Take news breaks.

Sad but true: news outlets, with their constant coronavirus updates, are not a positive place right now. But that doesn't mean you have to consume the news all day long. Resist the urge to leave the news on in the background while you work, or read dozens of articles about the crisis each day. Allow yourself 10 to 15 minutes to get the facts you need each day—literally set a timer!—then return to books, music, and TV shows that make you feel uplifted.


Commit to meditation.

Mindfulness is something we could all use a little more of right now: it helps us observe our thoughts and why they're cropping up, rather than our thoughts hitting us and forcing us straight into panic mode. Studies even show meditation is so powerful, it literally changes your brain's structure. If you're a newbie, try a guided app like Headspace or Calm to get started.


Schedule check-ins with your loved ones.

This is especially relevant if you're stuck inside solo. Since your iCal is no longer packed with plans out in the world, fill it up with virtual plans. Schedule weekly game nights with your parents, FaceTime chats with your siblings, and happy hours with your friends. You'll reap the emotional benefits, and you'll be able to see how your loved ones are doing, too—helping alleviate some of your anxieties about their physical and mental health.


Exercise often.

If you're like us, your number of daily steps has gone from somewhere in the thousands to... a couple hundred. Yikes. Exercise does so much for boosting your mood, self-esteem, and feelings of accomplishment, though, so work on getting that number back up. Go on a walk (if you can), sign up for virtual workout classes, order a jump rope and do it for 10 minutes a day... every minute breaking a sweat helps.


Get your vitamin D.

Even if you're not the outdoorsy type, you're probably missing out on some serious sunshine that you used to get traveling to work, walking your dog, or going to the playground with your kids. And a decrease in sunlight leads to a drop in serotonin in the brain (A.K.A. why you feel blue). Work or call your loved ones outside for a few hours daily, or at least move your at-home desk near a window.


Sign up for virtual therapy.

If you're really struggling to shake those feelings of sadness and/or anxiety, and they're starting to feel more like depression and/or panic, know that you have plenty of resources at your disposal, even from your living room. Most therapists and psychiatrists are now offering virtual therapy sessions. If you're worried about privacy, ask whoever you're quarantined with to put on headphones while you go into another room for your appointments, so you feel like you can truly speak your mind.


If you're feeling suicidal, or are worried a friend or loved one feels suicidal, dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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