Mental health is so important for our overall psychological well-being. The way we feel about ourselves and others, as well as our ability to manage our feelings and deal with everyday difficulties, all play a big role in our mental health status. Good mental health is just as important as good physical health, but we all face changes in our daily life that can challenge our emotional well-being.
So many times, we ignore the emotional messages that we do not feel well, by distracting ourselves, self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or adopting self-destructive behaviors. The good news is that we can adopt small positive changes in our lives that will help us to feel better, elevate our mood, and become more resilient, so we can enjoy life more. Just as we know it takes an effort to build and maintain good physical health, the same thing goes for our mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being, especially during stressful times like these, where we are experiencing and living through this COVID-19 Pandemic.
The following are some tips to try to handle everyday stress during regular times, but also how we may be feeling during this pandemic we are experiencing currently. We need to know that we are not alone and there are helpful resources and supports to assist us through this time.
Emotions Experienced During Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, such as an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing, quarantine, or isolation. During this time, people may feel, some or all of the following, but know that there are resources to help us cope.
- Anxiety, worry, or fear related to:
- Your own health status
- The health status of others whom you may have exposed to the disease
- The experience of monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of the disease
- Time taken off from work and the potential loss of income and job security
- The challenges of securing things you need, such as groceries and personal care items
- Concern about being able to effectively care for children or others in your care.
- Uncertainty or frustration about how long you will need to remain in this situation, and uncertainty about the future.
- Loneliness associated with feeling cut off from the world and from loved ones.
- Anger if you think you were exposed to the disease because of others’ negligence.
- Boredom and frustration because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities.
- Uncertainty or ambivalence about the situation.
- A desire to use alcohol or drugs to cope.
- Symptoms of depression such as feelings of hopelessness, changes.
Here are a few everyday mental health tips to help elevate our mood and become more resilient during stressful times:
- Practice self-care and make yourself a priority.
- Disconnect from electronics and social media.
- Engage in activities that provide meaning.
- Engage in meditation and/or mindfulness.
- Avoid heavy substance use.
The following are important things we can do to help make sure we keep ourselves mentally healthy:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Eat well.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs.
- Get plenty of sunlight.
- Manage stress.
- Activity and exercise.
- Do something you enjoy.
- Connect with others and be sociable.
Visit 2-1-1’s Mental Health website page that links to counseling services, support groups, hotlines/warmlines, PreventSuicideCT.org, the HealthyLivesCT website which has a mental health and substance use screeners, plus many more supports and resources.
Additional Mental Health Resources:
- Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: https://portal.ct.gov/dmhas
- National Association of Mental Illness (NAMICT): https://namict.org/
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Tips for handling Stress and Coping During this COVID-19 Pandemic:
2-1-1 Resource Guide of Community-Based Programs: For help identifying and connecting with basic needs programs like food, utilities, healthcare, diapers, and more, visit https://uwc.211ct.org/covid19resources.
SOURCES: Centers for Disease & Control (CDC); SAMSHA; NAMICT; Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; HELPGUIDEORG INTERNATIONAL