Mental Health Care during COVID-19

By Buffalo Medical Group | March 25 2020 | Doctor Tips

Throughout the current COVID-19 crisis we’re facing, we hear a lot about the physical symptoms to look out for and how to protect ourselves from the virus. Although this is extremely important information, it’s also important to focus on our mental heath during this time as well.

With new restrictions on where we can go and who we can see, our mental health can be impacted. Erin Ruston, LMHC, BMG Behavioral Health Counselor, has some information and tips to help patients care for their mental health. We hope they find them beneficial as we navigate these challenging times together.

What are Normal Reactions?

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Anxiety is a normal response to situations that feel out of our control. For many, the uncertainty that comes with the effects of COVID-19 is where the majority of our worry and anxiety stems from. We have no way of knowing how the current situation will unfold. Our minds’ defense mechanism is to catastrophize and imagine ‘worst case’ scenarios as a way of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. It is the way we identify any threats so that we can try to stop them. Instead of focusing on what is out of our control, concentrate on what we can control. By incorporating healthy coping strategies, we are able to manage our levels of panic and anxiety.

Tips for caring for your mental health:

Educate Yourself

Staying informed is a vital way to protect yourself and others, however, there is plenty of misinformation and unreliable sources that feed our current worries. Read credible and accurate sources, such as, the CDC and your local county’s health department.

Maintain Consistent Daily Routine

Despite routine changes that may or may not be out of your control, maintain as much consistency as possible. We tend to thrive off familiarity, so simply make adjustments to the tasks and activities you would normally complete in a day. For example, instead of going to the gym, take a walk outside or download a personal workout app; work from home during normal business hours; or have lunch with a friend over FaceTime.

Social Distancing is NOT Social Isolation

Avoiding social gatherings, work, school, and other normal social activities does not mean we have to be completely socially isolated. Find new ways of connecting with family, friends, and coworkers by utilizing technology. Call or text. Make plans to FaceTime, Skype, or use Google Hangout to virtually spend time with others.

Integrate Self-Care

Take advantage of your time off by doing what you rarely have time for. Remember that closet that you have been wanting to clean for months? Focus on yourself. Spend quality time with your immediate family members. Use the current situation to your advantage and make this a positive experience!

When our physical health is at stake, it understandably becomes our main focus and our mental health takes a backseat.

Our mind and body are interconnected and one has large effects on the other. It is of utmost importance that we learn to care for ourselves holistically.

Absolutely, continue maintaining a healthy diet, incorporating exercise, getting proper sleep, and monitoring any physical symptoms you may experience. Continue to monitor your stress level. Focus on what you are personally able to control. Incorporate self-care strategies on a daily basis. Lastly, remember, the pandemic will not last forever. Take advantage of your free time. Spend quality time with your significant other. Make positive memories with your children. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Ultimately, the current situation is dependent on how we react to it.