Safeguarding one's mental and physical health will be key to navigating the coming weeks
You can be forgiven if there have been times in the last couple of weeks when you felt as if you were starring in your own version of “The Shinning” (not a typo). But there are steps that each of us can take daily to safeguard our mental health in this time of great anxiety. Here are some tips culled from a variety of sources, and you can follow the links for additional advice and information.
Get back to the basics
Laurie Emerson, the executive director of Vermont's branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
Sometimes the best way to cope with stress is to follow the advice that most of us have been receiving from childhood: Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Many things feel out of our control in this moment, and focusing on those things we can control can help to establish a sense of routine and normalcy, and lift your overall mental health.
Take it one day at a time
Michael Friedman, associate professor at Columbia School of Social Work
The scope of the pandemic, and the time it might take to find the other side of it, can overwhelm. Rather than worrying if that July vacation will happen, focus on today, and then tomorrow the next, and then this too shall pass.
Understand that what you’re feeling might be grief, and it’s completely OK
Joshua Morganstein, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters
Morganstein stressed that many are currently feeling grief associated with the loss of routine, as well as “a perception of themselves as being healthy and protected.” These feelings are completely normal. Discuss them with either loved ones or a professional. If you need help, ask for it.
Dr. Giuseppe Raviola, director of mental health at Partners in Health (a Boston-based nonprofit)
Technology, which has often been cited as a source of growing disconnect in recent years, is now the best means we have for engaging with one another. So make those FaceTime calls to grandparents and keep setting up those friend/community “happy hours” on Zoom. While we’re all currently isolated, in a way, it doesn’t have to feel like it.
Avoid speculation; stick with reputable news sources
Mental Health Foundation (a UK-based nonprofit)
It’s good to keep up to date on new coronavirus developments, but it can be mentally taxing to engage in speculation or engage with news sources that sow misinformation. So, yes, keep following Gov. Mike DeWine’s informative, essential daily pressers, but maybe tune out when a certain national leader turns from Fox News for a few minutes in order to address the nation from his podium. Your mental health will thank you.
Turn off the news
Kathy HoganBruen, a Washington-based clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders
Of course, sometimes it’s best for a person’s mental health to just turn off the news altogether, even if only for a night.Editor's note: This does not apply to Alive. Sign up for our daily newsletter
Treat yo self
Donna Meagle, “Parks and Recreation”
OK, so Donna might be a fictional character, but this remains solid, true-life advice while navigating a global pandemic. Or any time, really. We should all find occasion to treat ourselves, whether it’s ordering takeout from the restaurants still doing business (my family's Service Bar dinner, enjoyed at home on Friday, brought some needed joy at the end of an exhausting week), getting lost in a good book (if you need recommendations, swing for the new Malamarkus Mystery Box from the Book Loft) or just enjoying some extra time with the family, since you’re all home together anyway.
Hang in there, baby
“Inspiring” office workers to keep on keeping on since 1971.