The world is collectively living through an event unlike any other experienced during our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we are living our lives. We are living in daily uncertainty, facing something largely unknown to us still, in constant concern over our health and the health of our loved ones, and for some, grief as well as added stress and pressure over finances and meeting our basic needs. All of this while being stuck at home (in some states and countries) and having limited or no access to our support systems (friends, family and other loved ones) and the places and activities we enjoy; it is the perfect recipe for increased mental health symptoms and needs.
Thankfully, many people can continue to access mental health services via telehealth* (see below for more information). In addition to mental health services, self-Care is something you can do at home to help relieve anxiety, stress and other mental health symptoms you may be experiencing as a result of the pandemic and social distancing regulations.
Self-care can be defined as things we do that we enjoy and help us relax. These are unique to each individual, but here are some examples of self-care:
- Having a video call with your friends and family
- Watching a movie or show that brings you positive emotions
- Engaging in a creative outlet of your choice
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Reading enjoyable books
- Having a virtual book-club
- Getting restful sleep
- Playing games
- Practicing yoga
- Getting outdoors, safely, while practicing social distancing and following your local regulations
- Listening to music
- Playing instruments
It is easy to forget about practicing self-care, so it is important to schedule it into our days. A minimum of one self-care activity a day is recommendable, particularly during high stress or high anxiety times, such as the one we are currently living through.
First, you can create a growing list of things or activities that are enjoyable and relaxing for you. Then, create a weekly schedule of self-care based on those activities, or, alternatively, pick one activity from that list every morning, to engage in on that day. Writing down or sharing your plan with someone can help you commit and follow through. Having a self-care buddy, even a virtual one, with whom to practice self-care, can also help you follow through and hold yourself accountable, in addition to potentially making the activity more enjoyable. You can face-mask with your friend via FaceTime, do online gaming with a loved one or work out with a buddy, for example. Get creative and make it fun! Practice self-care consistently, on a daily basis, and notice what difference this makes for your mental health. Taking care of ourselves is always important, and even more so when going through difficult times. Make the time to do this, as much as possible, to reap the benefits.
*You can reach out to your health insurance, medical care provider or mental health care provider, to inquire about telehealth services. You can also search for mental health providers that offer telehealth via Psychology Today or Therapy Den. We are currently accepting new telehealth patients at PNBC.
Additionally, here are some mental health resources available free of cost:
Disaster Distress Helpline 1 (800) 985-5990 (también disponible en Español)
Access & Crisis Line 1 (888) 724-7240 (también disponible en Español)
2-1-1 San Diego Dial 2-1-1 from any phone (también disponible en Español)
Additional stress coping tips can be found on the CDC website.
Written by Taina Aceves, LMFT.