Maintaining Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing a lot of stress. It is disrupting our finances, health, social interactions and much more. Stress, in turn, affects our mental health.
How Stress Affects Mental Health
People without mental health conditions may notice that they are not quite themselves. They may have trouble sleeping, be more irritable, and feel anxious. People with mental health conditions may notice changes as well. For example, someone with a history of addiction may notice an increase in cravings, or someone with a history of depression may feel more sad. Our experience with economic recessions, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina all indicate that these changes are to be expected.
How Stress Affects the Brain
Stress leads to biological changes in the brain and body that lead to a change in emotions and feelings. So, how should we handle this pandemic and the stress that it causes?
Stress Relief Tips During the Novel coronavirus Pandemic
Fortunately, there are some proven ways to handle the emotional stress happening during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The acronym "COVID" can help us remember them:
C – Compassion – Have compassion for yourself and others. We are all under stress and not quite ourselves right now.
O – Openness – Be open and curious about the thoughts and feelings you are having right now. Accept and embrace your mind and body just as they are.
V – Values – Stay connected to your meaning, purpose and values. There are many things outside of our control right now. However, every day we can choose who and what matter to us. We can also take small and meaningful steps toward what matters.
I – Inclusion – Together we will get through this mess. Find creative ways to connect with people you care about and include them in your life.
D – Disinfect – Wash your hands and wipe down hard surfaces. Avoid meetings with over 10 people and maintain six feet between you and others (not including family). These measures don’t just help you; they help save the lives of high risk populations in our community.
Mental Health Resources
For more information on managing your mental health during COVID-19, please refer to these resources:
- To access mental health or addiction treatment
- For tips on talking with children about COVID-19
- Advice for healthy parenting in the time of COVID-19
For the most updated information on your continued health needs at Denver Health during the COVID-19 outbreak visit: DenverHealth.org/Coronavirus.