Taking care of your mental health
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They say change is hard, but some changes are harder than others. The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has upended our daily lives, forcing many of us to stay home and interact with only our immediate family.
By now you know ways to stay healthy and stop the spread of the virus—such as washing your hands and social distancing. But in times like this, it’s equally important to take care of your mental health.
Thinking about the future may make you feel anxious or helpless. Being separated from extended family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers can be very isolating. Add pregnancy or young children into the mix, and your stress levels can skyrocket.
Please know that these feelings are normal. Here are ways you can stay positive and support your mental well-being.
Focus on the practical. Learn what you can do to prepare and protect your family from the virus. Make shopping lists, plan meals, keep up with chores, and brainstorm activities for your kiddos. This will help you feel more in control.
Step away from the news cycle. The constant updates from news sites, radio, and social media can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Turn off your push notifications and check a trusted news source only once or twice a day. That way, you’re getting the facts, not rumors or speculation. If there is an urgent situation, trust that news of it will reach you.
Stay connected. This is where modern technology really comes in handy. Social media alone can’t replace the IRL interactions you’re used to. But email, phone calls, and video chats are a step in the right direction. You can even talk with your neighbors at a distance—say, across the hall or across the street. Take joy in seeing people’s faces and hearing their voices. (On the flip side, this could also be a great time to discover the lost art of letter-writing!)
Practice self-care. You may feel pressured to accomplish as much as you did before: working eight hours a day, keeping your house immaculately clean, making sure your children are learning and engaged. Give yourself permission to prioritize self-care. That means getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and fitting in physical activity—whether it’s a stroll around the block or a living room dance party. Get outside for some vitamin D at least once a day. What’s your favorite way to relax? Build in time for that book, TV show, or hobby.
Check in on others. Think about those who may need extra help right now, such as an elderly neighbor or someone who doesn’t have an Internet connection. Give them a call and see what you can do to help from a distance. Supporting your community can help you feel better, too.
Tune in to your kids. Children see, hear, and understand more than we realize. How they express their emotions will depend on their age and personality. Talk about COVID-19 in a calm, honest way that they can understand. Encourage your kids to share any sadness, confusion, or fear they may have. Your family can take comfort in following familiar routines or creating new ones if schools and day cares are closed.
Enlist a pro.Seek professional help if your feelings of worry and stress don’t improve. If you have a personal history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges, be especially vigilant right now. Find out if your therapist is seeing patients via tele health platforms. Pharmacies remain open, so you can keep up with the prescriptions you need for your mental health or other underlying conditions (look into delivery options, too).
Be kind to yourself.You are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. No one is going to do everything perfectly, and don’t pressure yourself to try. Simply focus on doing the next right thing and remind yourself that this is a temporary situation.
It’s okay to feel anxious and scared during this time. Know that there are many forms of help available. Take care of yourself, inside and out, as we weather the upcoming weeks and months. You’ve got this, and we’re in it together—as mamas, as families, and as a community.
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