Researched Based Guidelines for Mental Health
Life away from my co-workers, groups, and the youth I work with has been a challenge, indeed. I miss them and I worry for them. I have grabbed onto the uniqueness of the situation, embraced the opportunity to spend quality time with my 20-year-old daughter, keeping my house tidy, and enjoying my long walks with my dog. However there are so many mixed emotions sometimes minute by minute; the political climate, the uncertainty of when this will get end, paying attention to every cough and ache. I worry about my 79 year old dad, my elderly aunt and uncle, my cousin who is immune compromised, my sister in law who has Lupus, and my correctional officer brother. I know each of us has similar stories and worries.
The American Psychological Association put out a great article entitled “Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe” that helped me manage my anxiety. The article addressed how to maintain social distancing while getting the support that we need.
I trust we are all doing what we can to stay safe and that of course means, staying home as much as possible. It is frustrating to see that people are not respecting the call for social distancing, however to avoid that dilemma, is to do your part, control only what you can control. The question is, how do we stay mentally and emotionally healthy?
Psychologists have created guidelines for dealing with this unprecedented circumstance, based on research!
First off if you are in crisis:
- Call 211
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The article discusses preparing yourselves prior to the event; however it is not too late!
- Sit down and sketch out a plan of action. How are you and/or those in your household going to spend your time?
- Make a to do list that will include both physical and mental health strategies.
- Make a list of those that you can reach out to you if you need psychological support, informally and professionally.
Spending too much time watching the news, listening to press conferences, obsessing on social media, talking or interacting informally about the crisis can contribute to increase anxiety, frustration, and fear.
- Only gather information from reliable resources
- US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- World Health Organization
- US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- The bulk of your time should be spent engaged in activities not related to the crisis
Create and follow a daily routine
- Provides a sense of purpose
- Include consistent daily activities such as chores, work, learning, exercise, set meal and leisure times
Stay virtually connected with others
Make an effort to reach out to friends, family members, and co-workers. You can gain ideas, discuss similar experiences, express sadness and other emotions. There are free resources:
- Face Time
- Google Hangout
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Part of the routine you establish, ensure that you have set bed tie
- Eat well
- If you need more professional health, reach out to your primary care physician who can help recommend physical health solutions as well as mental health support.
Use psychological strategies to manage stress and stay positive
- Focus on what you can change and not what you can’t
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Practice mindfulness & relaxation exercises
- Focus on the humanitarian reasons we are social distancing; when you do so, you are helping society as a whole
RESOURCE: Keeping Your Distance to Stay Save (n.d). Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/social-distancing