Surviving COVID-19: The Mental Health Edition

Let’s be honest- regardless of where you stand on how people are reacting to this- it has been a very stressful experience so far. From overall anxiety about health issues to childcare to financial insecurity to possibly running out of toilet paper- we have seen some extreme behaviors in the last several weeks.

Accept it- no reason to hide from how you feel about it. Accepting that you may be nervous about the uncertainty that COVID 19 has brought up will not make you weak.  Once you recognize what your fear is associated with, you can create a safety plan to feel a bit more in control of your own life. In the end, isn’t that what we really want? To have control of our own lives?

I have listed some common stressors I have heard about so far and possible “twist” in perspective to ease some anxiety.

Healthcare

I feel that we are very scared of COVID-19 because we don’t really know much about it. Chances are that if you are being proactive about following proper hygiene practices, you have already decreased your chances of getting sick. This scare is actually overall improving our habits related to overall health practices. Spending appropriate time washing our hands, eating appropriate amounts of food, and finding ways to release stress through exercising at home may become our new norm while we are recommended to stay inside. If you are able to keep up, these behavior changes will actually help you live a long and healthy life.

Food

Texas is really big on portion sizes. Anyone who is aware of nutrition will tell you that for changes in our bodies, more than exercise, we need to focus on portion control. While the grocery stores are “running out” of food because many are buying every last of everything- notice that you are most likely becoming very creative with your meal planning. You may find yourself exploring meals that you did not try before because your usual ingredients were available. You may also notice a change in energy level and overall health because your body is finally eating appropriate portions during meals.

Childcare

This has been a big stressor and my heart goes out to parents. Daycares and schools are not only a chance for kids to learn new things but also to socialize with other children their age and a possible “break” for parents. This is especially hard for parents who depend on this to earn a living. With so many people who are dependent on every bit of their paycheck- choosing between work and not leaving the child home alone feels like an impossible choice. Everyone is aware of the recent changes that have taken place so definitely reach out to your work, representatives, any other resource you can think of. You may have to stay at home because there is no other choice but it does not have to be a horrible experience. As a parent, if you remain calm, it will help your child feel at ease. This is a great opportunity to build memories that will comfort them in the future. Many parents do not get to spend time with their children and wish they could stop time so their children will not grow up so fast. This is the time that maybe you can bake together or play and learn about how your child has grown. This is the time to make that memory.

Financial Insecurity

This is another big one. We fear a recession but is it realistic to think that we were not going to have one? Everything that goes up, must come down right? It is scary. It is scary when businesses are needing to change in a way that threatens our financial security. While we are always worried about making more money, take this opportunity to find what changes you can make to better manage the financial situation you are in. I personally realized this morning that I will have to spend more time doing something I absolutely despise: cook. I enjoy good food but definitely do not enjoy making it. By cooking, I will be able to stretch my budget and my overall health will benefit as well.

Mental Health Support

As a mental health provider, this was honestly the first thing that came to my mind. The majority of my clients struggle with depression. Depression naturally causes one to isolate and social distancing, as needed as it is, may have a negative impact on those who are already struggling with activities the majority of people take for granted. Someone with anxiety may increasingly feel worried about not having any control over the current situation and feeling alone definitely will make it difficult. The good news is that most therapists are starting to offer Telehealth services. My personal preference has been face-to-face and many of my clients feel the same way.  I will continue to offer face-to-face services unless I am told otherwise but for those clients who are uncomfortable/increasingly worried about their health, this has been a great addition for their peace of mind. Your mental health provider can check with your insurance to see if this is something that is covered by your insurance and if not, discuss what options you may have available.

This situation is stressful in so many ways as is. There is no reason to try to tackle it alone. So far these were the stressors that were brought to my attention but I know that this list does not cover ALL. Let me know what your worries are and build this community, virtual or real, full of resources and support.

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