By - karengray
08.17.20 01:52 PM

The coronavirus outbreak may have you feeling lonely, isolated, stressed, and anxious. Whether you and your family are social distancing or required to stay home, you can look after your mental health and stay connected.

Be social.

Socialization is key, especially if you feel isolated. Feeling connected to others prevents the feelings of loneliness and stress. First, swap the term “social distancing” for “physical distancing.” Remind yourself that we’re all still connected, even if we’re apart.

Let’s start practicing “distant socializing.” We can still get together with friends and family online or on the phone. Send emails and texts. Get in touch on social media. Pick up the phone and say hi. This is a great tip for school-aged kids who are feeling disconnected from family and friends.

Keep your connection to your community, or build new ones. Look online for religious services and cultural events. Many organizations are offering digital gatherings for religious groups, online classes, and cultural events.

Share your feelings with others, either friends and family or support groups and therapists. Conversation can help you feel more supported and less alone.

Take a break from the news.

The 24-hour news cycle can make anxiety spike, so give yourself a limit. Tune in to get the information you need to know, and then turn it off. Start by limiting your news intake to 1-2 updates a day, just enough to keep you informed and not enough to be overwhelming.

Change your mindset.

We’ve talked a lot about reframing our thoughts, and that is even more important now, since you are what you say you are. If you find yourself with negative thoughts, you can acknowledge them, and answer them with a positive reframing. For example, if you find yourself thinking “I’m never going to recover from this.” answer that thought with a positive reframe like “I’ve made it through each day so far.”

Lower your Stress

Try out a hypnosis program, a meditation app, or an online yoga class. When your mind feels too full, write some things down to clear your head. Practice mindfulness. Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for each day. Maybe it’s first responders and service workers who keep us safe. Maybe it’s family, friends, and the roof over your head.

Go outdoors.

Fresh air and exercise help to relieve loneliness and stress. Spending time in nature and exercising releases feel-good chemicals in your brain to boost your mood. Take a walk, sit outside and read, garden, or just enjoy the fresh air.

Help others.

There’s an old, true saying that you can’t think about yourself and someone else at the same time. If you find that you are too far “in your own head,” then step out of it by helping someone else. Helping others benefits everyone. By giving support, you get a sense of control and purpose. 

It can be as simple as a phone call or text saying, “How are you doing? Thinking of you. We’ll get through this.” or something more hands-on like volunteering to deliver food to others who can’t leave home. 

Take care of yourself.

Now’s not the time to slack off on sleep, exercise, or diet. Good self-care offsets anxiety and stress. Have a daily routine. Have a regular wake-up and bedtime. Make time for exercise and relaxation. 

If you're having anxiety, there are tons of resources that can help you to relieve those symptoms. If you had anxiety before the coronavirus outbreak and your feelings of fear and panic are getting worse, it’s important that you reach out to your doctor or therapist.

Try a new perspective.

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