Over the last few weeks, it seems like no matter where you turn, the coronavirus is the center of the conversation. School closures, work changes, event cancellations, and less socialization can take a toll on your mental health.

From anxiety about the disease to feelings of uncertainty, your mind may be going into overdrive. We have some suggestions on how to calm that inner voice and maintain your mental health.

1. Stop the Media Overload

It is easy to go down a “rabbit hole” of doom and gloom if you are constantly checking your social media feed and googling coronavirus news. Choose one or two reliable sources to follow and stick with that as your guideline and limit the amount you check on a daily basis.

Some good sources of information is the Center of Disease Control (CDC) or WHO. These sources can keep you informed without adding emotion/panic to the mix.

 

2. Know The Facts

There is a lot of information on the coronavirus, but not all the information is true. Knowing the facts during an outbreak can help you reduce your anxiety.

The CDC  has released a “Key Facts” page about the coronavirus to help stop rumors and keep people grounded during this time. Knowing your actual personal risk may help reduce the amount of anxiety you are going through.

 

3. Connect with Others

Just because we are told to keep a distance from friends and family does not mean we cannot connect with them. Humans are social creatures and it can take a toll on our mental health when we are separated from our normal social routine.

Modern technology makes it easier to continue our social lives even when we are away from each other – texting, calling, video chats, emails and social media can help us maintain contact.

 

4. Talk About Your Anxiety

Having anxiety can make you feel like you’re alone. Sometimes, it just helps to talk through your anxiety with a trusted family member, friend, or therapist.

Talking out loud about what concerns can open you up to other perspectives and can help you feel like you are not alone.

 

5. Get Rest

During times of high stress, you may find yourself trying to sleep but your mind is spinning out of control with “what if” scenarios.

Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can increase that amount of stress and may exaggerate some symptoms of your anxiety.

Not only does not enough sleep cause added mental strain, but it can also reduce your ability to fight infections and plays a role in overall health.

Here are some suggestions to create a healthy sleeping habit according to the National Sleep Foundation:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule.  Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time. This helps regulate your natural sleeping habits and can help you go to sleep easier at bedtime.
  2.  Keep your bedroom cool. Temperatures between 60-67 degrees can help you sleep easier.
  3. Exercise Daily. As little as 10 minutes a day of exercise can improve your quality of sleep. 
  4.  Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. An uncomfortable mattress or ill-fitting pillow can make sleeping extremely difficult. Keep in mind, too that a mattress lifespan is about 8-10 years.
  5. Wind Down. Avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed. The light emitted from screens and devices can activate the brain and make falling to sleep more difficult.

 

6. Stay Active/Exercise

When you feel anxious and depressed about the coronavirus or your current situation, exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do.

However, exercise may be just the thing you need! Working out releases endorphins – or your “feel good” hormones which can help lessen your anxiety.

Not only can it help with the chemical imbalances in your brain, but it can also take your mind off the issue causing the anxiety in the first place.

Exercise can also help boost your immune system! Read more about the benefits of exercise here!

 

7. Stick to A Routine

There is no doubt that people’s lives are completely changed during the coronavirus outbreak. Schools closing, working from home, restaurants closing and social events canceling can make you feel like you have no control over what is going on.

This can make existing mental health issues worsen or unveil new mental health issues. One of the best ways to keep the feeling of control is to maintain a daily routine.

A few ideas to help you organize your day (from happify daily):

  1. Print out a calendar, or use a notepad to create a To – Do list for yourself
  2. Write down your daily obligations – this will be the base of your routine
  3. Then, write down your meetings/deadlines on the day they are due
  4. Add in your daily activities (include meals, exercise, family activity..etc).
  5. On the side of your calendar, create a “wish list” of activities you’d like to do in your spare time.

 

8. Separate Your Work from Home Life

If you were one of the many people that are now working from home, it is surprisingly hard to separate your home from work life, which can also be a source of stress.

If possible, make sure that you create a separate environment for work and also create a routine to “go to work”.

For example, make sure you do your normal morning routine – shower, get dressed, have breakfast..etc before going to your workspace.

And when you are done with work, there is a clear “end”.

For example, you turn off your computers, exercise, make dinner..etc after “leaving” work.

This can create a routine as mentioned above that will help give stability to your life.

 

9. Go Outdoors

Sometimes we forget that just because we are stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t go in our backyards or go on a hiking trail that isn’t crowded (and keep social distancing).

Going out and enjoying the natural beauty of the world can help put things into perspective.

Separate yourself from your devices and go for a walk or a run – you’d be amazed at how much this simple act can relax your mind.

10. Take Breaks/Breathe

If you start feeling overwhelmed, try to stop yourself, take a breath, and take a break – whether this break is reading a book, exercising, writing down your thoughts or going outdoors, this can help keep your mind from spiraling.

Check-in with yourself once in a while to evaluate your mental state and if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, take a step back & breathe.

 

Bonus – Know That This Is Temporary

This situation with the coronavirus may seem like it is never going to end – just know that this situation will pass, and we will get through this!

Remind yourself that this situation is temporary.

Take things day-by-day and take the steps above to help improve your mental health during these trying moments.