5 Mental Health Tips for Coping with the Coronavirus
1) Remember emotions are not good or bad. Each emotion serves a purpose to alert us to something important. Anxiety, in particular, can be helpful to help us “prepare” for a situation or perform during a stressful task. Ask yourself and label what emotion(s) you might be feeling. Labeling emotions in and of itself can be regulating to distress.
Siegel, D.J. & Bryson, T. D. (2012). The whole-brain child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. Bantam Books.
2) If your emotions are doing more harm than good try Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s (DBT) skill – taking opposite action. Find actions that might feel the “opposite” to the overwhelming emotion you might be feeling. For example, if you are feeling down or depressed, maybe that means you engage in things that might make you laugh, smile, or feel happy. That could mean listening to music that makes you feel this way, watching a comedian on Netflix/Youtube, or looking at old photos that make you smile.
Linehan, M. M. (1993). Skills training manual for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The Guildford Press.
3) Schedule “worry/anxiety/panic” time. This Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skill suggests you schedule 30 minutes daily let yourself worry, maybe read news, or talk to others about it etc., just letting these emotions and thoughts be. Then limit your exposure to things that might increase anxiety/panic (i.e news, social media etc.) other times of the day. By scheduling time to worry, you can help yourself refocus the rest of the day to carry on with what you might need to do, knowing you have your “worry time” set aside for later.
McGowan, S., & Behar, E. (2012). A preliminary investigation of stimulus control training for worry: Effects on anxiety and insomnia. Behavior Modification, 7(1), pp. 90-112.
4) This Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skill, suggests you decide how you would like to live out your valuesin this situation. By focusing on your values, you can align what is important to you with your actions, creating meaning and purpose (in spite of a sense of chaos). For example, maybe you value social justice, so you can focus on addressing the Xenophobia that has been present in the news/social media. Maybe you value knowledge, so you focus on obtaining the best evidenced-based research and facts, or maybe you value your religious faith, so you focus on religious scripture and/or rituals.
Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple: An easy-to-read primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
5) Self-care. Engage in activities that will reduce stress (exercise, yoga, meditation, hot shower/bath), etc.) daily. You can Youtube yoga classes (if wanting low-cost free or to avoid people 😉 ) or try some meditation/mindfulness apps:
Over 30,000 free guided meditations, imagery, and mindfulness. Covers topics of sleep, anxiety, stress, etc. Faith-based guided meditation included. Option for payment for additional features.
First 2 weeks free. Guided simplified meditation app. Subscription covers guided meditation and mindfulness exercises that are great for busy schedules.
Free meditation app made by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Includes topics on gratitude, body, micro aggressions, sleep, race, etc.
Free made by the defense health agency. Practice and learn diaphragmatic breathing. Can pair with Apple Watch and Health Kit to measure heart rate.
Free 7 day trial app with mediation, breathing exercises, and music and video scenery for relaxation and stress relief. Also includes sleep stories, with new stories added every week.
Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds
Free download includes sleep background noises. 7 day free trial includes guided meditations, stories, and guided gentle movements.