Our governor gave the official order beginning April 3rd to “shelter in place” but most Mississippians and the rest of the country have been practicing some degree of sheltering in place and social distancing for weeks now, as more and more businesses temporarily close their doors or transition to working remotely in an effort to help “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic.
These mandates are in place to keep us safe, healthy, and coronavirus-free and to hopefully keep hospitals and clinics from being overwhelmed by the effects of coronavirus. But the sudden and unexpected changes to our daily lives and the effects of social distancing and constantly staying at home can negatively impact our mental and physical health. The good news is, you can combat these negative effects and get your physical and mental health on the right track.
Managing Anxiety, Depression and Other Mental Health Issues
Between the fears of contracting coronavirus, anxieties over lost jobs and wages, and other stresses like learning how to homeschool and balance working from home, many people are struggling with anxiety and depression symptoms. Some experience anxiety and depression directly related to the effects of coronavirus on their lives. Other people have suffered from anxiety and depression disorders for much of their lives and are fighting a spike in their symptoms or are simply trying to figure out if they’re going to be able to continue to get treatment for their illness during the pandemic.
Thanks to technology, medically treating your anxiety and depression is still possible through telehealth and apps like the ones found in this Psycom article. If you are an EliteCare patient currently being treated by our providers for depression or anxiety, you can get help including prescription refills from us anytime by texting our main clinic line and requesting a telehealth appointment.
In addition to maintaining medical treatment, you can battle anxiety and depression from home and put a smile back on your face with these steps.
- Stay connected. Even the introverts who consider themselves professionals at social distancing and sheltering in place have admitted to wishing they could hug their grandparents, parents, and other family members and friends right now. The next best thing we can all do is stay connected with one another through the plethora of communication methods today’s technology gives us. From social media apps like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Instagram to chat apps like Zoom and Skype to a good old-fashioned phone call, there’s more than one way to reach out and stay in touch with the ones you love the most. Take advantage and schedule daily chats or calls with a loved one to help both you and them combat loneliness.
- Get just enough news and info each day to understand the latest updates and risks, but avoid keeping the news on a constant cycle 24/7 and make sure you stick to news and info from credible sources. Staying informed is essential but you don’t need to hear every horror story and scary fact out there. Keeping the news on keeps all of the fearsome facts about coronavirus at the forefront of your mind which obviously increases anxiety. You can get all the daily info you need on coronavirus by visiting CDC.gov, WHO.int, or MSDH.ms.gov. Each of these sites provides accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus without any of the scare.
- Schedule “Worry Time.” That’s right, we said make time to worry. You’re going to do it anyway, might as well take control of your worry and how much time you give to it. Trust us, you’ll start to see a difference in your mood pretty quickly. Do this by scheduling 10 – 15 minutes of time to sit and worry about all the things, but do it constructively. Write about your worries in a journal or give a trusted friend or vent partner a call. When you feel a worrisome thought begin to creep in randomly throughout your day, take control of the thought and “file it away” for your next scheduled worry time. You may even decide to carry on this mental exercise even after quarantine time is over and regular life has resumed.
- Practice good coping strategies. Deep breathing exercises, stretching and meditation are natural, healthy methods that actually work to relieve bouts of anxiety. Filling free time with constructive activities like exercising or channeling your creative side with an adult coloring book, art project and other creative outlets are also good coping methods. One idea we’re particularly fond of that helps you connect with your loved ones and fills your free time constructively is to write letters or make cards for those you can’t see right now. If you have kids, this is a great way to spend time with them and teach them about caring for others while treating your own struggles at the same time.
- Watch out for unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, bingeing too much television, and slacking up on exercise. Take special care to put a stop to a sudden new habit like smoking or daily drinking before it becomes an even bigger problem–an addiction. If you catch yourself engaging in unhealthy coping behaviors, simply recognizing the behaviors can help you quit them. One of the best ways to stop a bad behavior is to replace it with a better one, like exercising or trying out new healthy recipes instead of gazing into the snack cabinet for the third time in an afternoon.
- Feel the sunshine. Vitamin D is essential to fighting anxiety and depression and thankfully we live in an area of the world where most of us have enough distance between ourselves and our neighbors to safely go outside.
Maintaining Physical Health
As you probably know, your physical and mental health are well-connected so much of our advice to maintaining good physical health is the same as what we shared for keeping up your mental spirits. Eat healthy and don’t binge on junk food. Instead of spending hours staring into the pantry or fridge in search of your next snack, pull up the Pinterest app or dust off those cookbooks your grandmother gave you and find some healthy recipes to try out with your family. You’ll wile away boredom with researching recipes, gathering ingredients, and preparing the food instead of sho\ving more donuts, Ding Dongs, and potato chips into your mouth. If you’ve been wanting to make healthy eating and meal prepping a part of your family’s lifestyle, now’s a great time to teach everyone including the kids how to make some great tasting meals and snacks.
Keep up daily exercise even if you can’t leave your home to go for a walk or run. You can find tons of exercise videos for free on YouTube as well as countless apps. Many local gyms and fitness centers are live streaming workouts daily or multiple times a day so you don’t have an excuse not to get your fit on. If accountability is a problem, reach out to friends or former gym buddies and ask if you can keep each other accountable and even try virtual daily workouts together.
Take your vitamins and other supplements approved by your medical provider. You can also use our telehealth program to keep up prescriptions for high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.
Are you struggling to manage your mental or physical health during COVID-19? EliteCare can help through our telehealth program. Dial or text 662-348-3342 to get started today.