How to Protect Your Mental Health During Coronavirus
Mental Health Strategies for Coping with Stress, Boredom, and Anxiety
We are living in a unique and challenging time – navigating uncharted waters, the likes of which we have never seen. Go ahead, give yourself permission to feel apprehensive, scared, and worried. Like everyone else, you are probably on an emotional rollercoaster that never seems to end. So, how do you protect your mental health during coronavirus worries, and how do you deal with the up and down emotions, boredom, and feelings of isolation that may move into your home and your life? Those are the questions we will answer here today.
We started this report by telling you to give yourself permission to be in the moment and acknowledge your feelings. No matter your situation, you are entitled to feel however, you feel at any given moment. Know this – the moment will pass, and you will find yourself in an entirely different place – maybe better, maybe worse – that, too, shall pass.
We are dealing with an unprecedented crisis. As the parent of a child with special needs, you already have practice adapting to challenging situations. This is the time to pull out all the tools in your arsenal. What works today may not work tomorrow. Know this – whatever you are feeling, your child and other family members are also experiencing these new, strange situations. It’s time to jump in and find some stress and boredom busters that will get you through – one day at a time.
**Coronavirus Strategies for Coping with Stress and Anxiety**
During times of acute stress, you may feel as though you want to explode. That is the time to get up and do something physical. You want to use some of your pent-up energy, let out some steam, and get those endorphins pumping through your bloodstream.
Here are some of the ways you and your family members can cope with stress:
Put on some music and dance – music goes the distance when it comes to relieving stress. It also allows us to be silly – something we need right now. Here is something fun to try: have everyone dance like a worm – lay down on the floor and wiggle until you all start to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and will help brush away all that anxiety.
- Get out in nature and go for a walk – with fewer cars on the road, now is the best time to go outside and breathe in fresh air. No matter where you live, you can take a nature walk. Feel the breeze on your skin, count flowers that you pass, look for squirrels, ducks, and birds. Being out in nature helps improve psychological well-being and decreases depression.
- Get in some exercise – you do not have to invest in expensive gym equipment to exercise. Grab a couple of cans from the kitchen cabinet and use them as hand weights. So many gyms and personal trainers have free classes online. You can do yoga, Pilates, high-intensity interval training (a natural hormone booster), dance, and more. A link at the bottom of this page will take you to free classes offered by national gym chains.
- Get wet – ok, pools and beaches may be closed, but that does not mean you cannot have some water fun. As the weather heats up, order a fun sprinkler attachment online – many of them are under $20. Don’t let the kids be the only ones to have fun – put on a bathing suit or shorts and a tank top and join in. Get wet, laugh, fill up water balloons, and have a “fight” to let off some steam.
Whether you stay indoors or get outside – there are many ways to “move,” “shake,” and “have fun!” Getting out that anxiety is what your body and your mind need.
Coronavirus Strategies for Dealing with Boredom
Of course, everything we just said about stress will also help with boredom. However, we want to give you even more tools for getting through these times – one day at a time.
Chances are high that every member of your family is getting bored these days. Here are some ways to chase away the boredom while also helping balance your emotional state:
- Plant an herb or vegetable garden – get a few pots or even extra coffee cups you have around the house. Buy a bag of dirt and some seeds, and plant away. Even on a shady patio, some seeds will grow. Your children will love checking on their plants each day to see how they are doing. (check out the links below for some tips)
- Take an online class – many online classes are free these days. All you have to do is search “free online classes during coronavirus” in your browser, and you will find options for yourself and your family. Many of the “college” level classes even provide certificates – new skills to add to your resume.
- Take up a new hobby – have you always wanted to learn to paint, sew, crochet, knit, or bake? Now is the time to take advantage of home-isolation by trying something new.
- Put together a puzzle – the options are endless and will provide you and your family with hours and days of fun.
- Read a book or watch a series – again, if you find yourself dealing with free time and boredom, this is the time to fill in the gaps with all those things you keep saying you want to do one day when you have the time.
- Organize and clean out closets – yes, we all hate doing it, but think of how good you will feel by accomplishing one “put-off” task. By donating unneeded items, you will also feel a sense of helping others.
Some Final Thoughts and Inspiration
To help get you through this tough time, remember that life is a conversation. At any moment, you have the power to change your conversation. A mindset shift during the pandemic is crucial when you find yourself losing hope. Watch what you say and how you say it.
Here are some examples:
Watch for how the signs of stress affect you and others around you in the following ways:
- Behavioral changes – acting out of character, substance abuse, isolation, changes in sleep patterns, eating too much or not enough
- Emotional changes – anxiousness, sadness, overwhelm, depression, shut down, worried
- Physical changes – body aches, fatigue, stomach disorders, lack of focus, headaches
These are signs that you need to take action to alleviate anxiety and stress. Remember, you can always turn to meditation, deep-breathing, and relaxation techniques. Click here
for a 30-second exercise from our Mindfulness Meditation article.
Finally, turn off the television and step away from social media. If you must catch up on the pandemic news each day, allocate one 30-minute block of time later in the day. Follow it up with a good comedy on TV. Laugh, have fun, and remember, this, too, shall pass. Better days are ahead.
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2020 Magazine