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Taking Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19
July 13, 2020
When it comes to protecting ourselves during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to focus exclusively on physical health – making sure we are following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing and doing everything we can to keep ourselves, our families and our communities healthy. All those things are important. But there is another important facet of our health that we should not ignore during this time – our mental health.
Not only does our mental health affect how productive we are at work, how we make decisions and how we cope with stress, but it can also affect our physical health. For example, stress can have a direct impact on our immune system, and when we are not able to cope with stress adequately, it can compromise our body’s ability to fight off illness.
Mental health issues are very common, affecting millions of Americans each year. During difficult times like we are currently experiencing, many of us are faced with unforeseen physical, social and economic challenges that can elevate stress, depression and other mental health issues and even have an impact on those who normally are not affected by these conditions.
The bottom line? If you are suffering, you are not alone.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to help alleviate stress and boost your mental health – not just during the challenges we are facing today, but in all situations:
- Checking in regularly with family, friends and work colleagues
- Taking time to relax, recharge and rest
- Getting outside with safe social distancing, and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your day
- Spending quality time doing something you love, whether it is a hobby, reading a good book or watching a favorite movie or television show
- Maintaining healthy, nutritious eating and staying hydrated
- Avoiding unhelpful coping strategies such as alcohol, drug and tobacco use
- Focusing on the things you can control and accepting what you cannot
- Avoiding excessive time watching news and social media
Another thing to remember about mental health? It is okay to talk about it. A safe, supportive and accepting environment is important if you are suffering. Just as most people wouldn’t think twice about seeing a doctor for chest pain or other serious physical symptoms, it is important to proactively seek help and get the medical attention you need if you are experiencing a mental health condition.
How about some more good news? The prognosis for mental health conditions is good. In fact, most people who seek treatment for a mental health condition do show improvement. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, the benefits of seeking help and treatment can make a positive difference in your overall quality of life.
If you or someone you know is suffering from stress or another mental health condition, services such as our sister hospital Clark Memorial Health’s behavioral health services are open and able to safely provide help. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be reached at 800.273.8255. For more information on mental health, visit mentalhealth.gov.