We understand that fear and anxiety about COVID 19 can be overwhelming for everyone right now. It can be especially hard for those who are already struggling with their mental health. During May, we join the national movement to raise awareness about mental health within the Karen community.
Our Spring Community Health Intern, Ler Moo, put together the following information to help individuals and families cope with their stress and maintain their mental health during this outbreak.
1. Recognize Your Feelings
You might not think that this is necessary; however, this is the first simple step for you to manage your stress and cope with difficult situations. Take your emotional temperature by asking yourself these questions:
- What emotions am I feeling right now?
- Which is the strongest emotion that I’m feeling?
- What might be triggering these feelings?
- What is happening in my daily life?
Write down your answers in a notebook as you think through them. Remember to also include your enjoyable feelings. After recognizing your feelings, speak up, and let go of the fear. You can do this by calling one of your trusted friends or relatives.
2. Limit Your News Consumption
It is a great idea to stay informed; however, limiting some news consumption can help you cope with your stress and anxiety. Constantly watching or listening to the news regarding the corona virus pandemic can increase your stress. Try to set a time limit for how long you’re going to read of listen to the news. The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends that you make sure the sources you are watching or listening to, including the one on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), are credible and true.
3. Stay Active
We understand that staying at home can make you less physically active than usual; however, it is important for you to remain active in your daily life. Exercising can help you better manage your stress and anxiety. There are many indoor exercises that do not require any equipment, such as walking, stretching, and dancing. If you’re not sure where to start, there are many exercise routines on YouTube. We recommend visiting YouTube and searching for “indoor workout,” or other types of exercise you would like to do at home. If you have health issues, please reach out to your primary doctor before engaging in any activity.
4. Try Mindfulness Activities
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the present moment without any distraction or judgment. Activities like meditation and breathing exercises are known to be very beneficial in helping people cope with their anxiety or other mental health symptoms (NAMI, 2020). Here are steps you can take to meditate at home:
1. Take a seat
Find a quiet place.
2. Set time limit
Recommend 5 minutes if you are a beginner.
3. Check your position
You can sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor.
4. Focus on your breath
Follow your breath as it goes in and out.
5. Notice when your mind starts to wander
Bring back your attention to your breath.
6. Be friendly to your wandering mind
Don’t be upset about your wandering mind.
7. Close with kindness
Slowly lift your gaze and bring your attention back to the present moment.
5. Stay Connected with Others
Social connection is important for maintaining good mental health. During this outbreak, we want you to stay connected with others. There are many ways to stay connected virtually through phone, email, and social media. Consider scheduling regular dates and times with family and friends for a game night or video calls. If you are a religious individual, you can connect with your religious leaders via email, phone, and social media to find strength and consolation in times of distress.
For more information, please, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Stay home, stay safe, and together we can stop the spread of COVID 19.