As a naturally anxious person, the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on my mental health. That’s why I started adhering to advice on handling mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19 released by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are the recommendations they offered that I am following to help ease my anxiety during this pandemic.
Cut Down on the News
According to the WHO, you should “minimize watching, reading, or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed.” Upon seeing this advice, I limited my consumption to twice per day. I now check the news once in the morning to see if there were any overnight developments and then again in the afternoon. That way I can bring up any pertinent information to my family members at dinner and get their thoughts on it too.
We should also limit our news sources. Pick a couple of sources you can trust that don’t sensationalize the numbers. For hard facts and data, stick to the WHO, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and National Public Radio (NPR). If you have political preferences when it comes to the news, such as CNN or FOX News, that’s fine. However, try reserving your second check in of the day to a less-biased broadcast company.
Lastly, don’t rely on social media for news. My friends and family speak about the coronavirus scare with a lot of opinions and emotion. So I now avoid joining in on discussions with them as it only drives the anxieties of both parties through the roof.
Rethink Your Social Media Strategy
Speaking of social media, you might want to change up some of the ways you’re using these tools. First, consider blocking specific terms from your feed. For instance, I stopped following #coronavirus and #covid19 on Twitter. You can do the same on Instagram or opt to hide trending news on Facebook. Let’s face it, one of the biggest things trending right now is the novel coronavirus.
If you’re going to partake in current news, change the narrative. Instead of sharing stories about the doom and gloom of COVID-19, repost success stories. When you find a headline about someone in your community who is no longer infected with COVID-19, let your followers know. It’s better to hear one happy story amid thousands of sad ones than none at all.
An excellent tip provided by the WHO is to strive to be the good you want to see in the world. As the WHO explains, “Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.”
When you do good in bad times, it helps you feel better about the situation. You are taking the reins in an uncertain situation and you’ll feel better for it. Helping others allows you to not feel like a victim in moments where you probably feel pretty helpless.
Some things you can do to help others include:
- Texting a friend to check in and see if they need anything.
- Calling an elderly neighbor to see how they’re doing.
- Cooking for someone who isn’t able to go grocery shopping.
- Signing up for Dialup, a quarantine app for people who are nervous about COVID-19 to support each other.
- Cleaning up the neighborhood.
During these times, it’s important to maintain the social distancing protocol. So, try to say six feet away from people who don’t live at your home. That’s why cleaning up the neighborhood might be the right task to take your mind off things. While most people are inside, you can make a difference for the environment and your neighborhood by cleaning up the outside.
Thank Healthcare Providers
One of the most effective ways to reclaim your mental health is to find gratitude. When we act grateful, it changes our mindset. The WHO suggests people, “Honor caretakers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community. Acknowledge the role they play to save lives and keep your loved ones safe.”
As real as coronavirus anxiety is, we are much less likely to contract the virus than those healthcare workers fighting to eradicate it. Essential workers are working around the clock to ensure the safety and health of those we care about. They’re also trying to prevent you from getting it, too.
Once I changed my perspective to one of thanks rather than fear, I felt better about the situation. Just like doing good for others can help you reclaim your positive headspace, so can practicing gratitude.
Don’t Shut Yourself Out
Sure, we should be socially distancing ourselves from others. However, we shouldn’t be going off the grid. We’re in a pandemic. These are the moments we lean on each other the most…even if it’s from afar.
Our friends and family are our support system. They’re the ones who can lift us up when our mental health is compromised. Reach out to them. They probably need you, too!
Even if you must remain sheltered in place, you can still get together with your crew. FaceTime or video chat and have a coffee with your siblings. Invite all your friends to join the Houseparty app to have a virtual happy hour. Or just call them the old fashioned way. Do whatever you can to remain in touch with others. Just make sure you steer the conversation toward less anxiety-ridden topics than COVID-19.
Wash Hands, Just Not Too Much
Without a doubt, the most significant reason for our coronavirus anxiety is the unknown. We don’t know who has COVID-19. Therefore, we’re uncertain if we’re susceptible to the virus. That’s a lot for any person, especially someone with mental health issues, to wrap their head around. The importance of handwashing and sanitizing has been stressed throughout the media outlets for good reason. However, it’s their job to drill that point home over and over again. For someone who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), such as myself, this overabundance of cleanliness news puts my quirks into overdrive.
While social isolation is widespread now, I started practicing this much sooner. I avoided people and kept to the regular cleaning habits I have in my house. If you are sheltering in place, don’t change your practices. Stay clean and stay safe without triggering your OCD.
Keep Doing Healthy Activities
It’s essential to keep your immune system up. By cultivating physical health, your mental health will naturally fall in place. Just because you’re being forced indoors doesn’t mean you should toss caution to the wind, chow down on Doritos and forgo your wellness routines.
As the WHO suggests, “Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthyactivities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep consistent sleep routines, and eat healthy food.”
Use this time to be productive with your health. Make new recipes you didn’t have time to try out before. Read books you’ve been putting off opening. Put on a yoga video on YouTube.
The best way to fight mental health issues triggered by COVID-19 is to find the positive in a negative situation. We always say we don’t have enough time. If we’re home and not working, we probably have that time. So, let’s find the silver lining and make use of these extra hours to better ourselves.
Use All-Natural Supplements
The problem with mental health issues is when they ramp up, they can spiral out of control. That’s because stress and anxiety alter us on a molecular level. Whenever we experience mental health problems, hormones like cortisol take hold. So, I lower my cortisol levels naturally by using supplements like Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene.
Tranquilene is fortified with botanicals that help lower cortisol levels. Two of the primary ingredients are ashwagandha and brahmi. Studies on these Ayurvedic herbs find they both can slow down cortisol production.
What are some ways that you are managing your mental health during this pandemic? Help others out by sharing your story with us in the comments below!