Mental Health Tips During This Time of Crisis
Our sense of normalcy has changed. We are in unprecedented times causing anxiety even among people with no mental health issues, let alone those suffering from anxiety, PTSD and depression. It’s important to know that in these uncertain times, with recommendations becoming more extreme and restrictive than the day before, it is no surprise that anxiety and depression are increasing at alarming rates.
To add to the impending crisis, experts are recommending social distancing, which can cause increasing feelings of loneliness and disconnection, impacting and increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Add the additional fear of economic uncertainty, and not only do we have to deal with the impending pandemic, but we also have chronic fear of the unknown, and feel helpless as we have very little control. These issues combined leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and uncertain.
Following are tips and techniques to help take care of our mental health during these times.
How to cope with the anxiety
• Create a gratitude list daily and repeat it often when you are feeling overwhelmed.
• Pray, and engage in an activity that will encourage spiritual growth such as saying the Rosary, Deep Breathing, or listening to Catholic radio.
• Try deep breathing and grounding techniques. There are many apps that can help teach you these skills. Practice with several of them until you find ones you like.
o Deep breathing: Breathe in for a slow count of eight, hold your breath for a count of eight, and then exhale for a count of eight. Repeat this sequence.
o Grounding techniques: Explore the present moment, because right now, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, the colors, the shapes, the objects, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell.
• Practice a balanced response. Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause. Breathe.
• Realize what’s in your control, and actions to take to keep yourself and loved ones safe
• Limit the news and be careful what you read.
o Limit time spent reading/watching things which aren’t making you feel better.
o Decide on a specific time to check in with the news.
o Watch only trusted sources of information CDC, HHS websites, etc.
o Mute words which might be triggering on Twitter; unfollow or mute accounts.
o Mute WhatsApp groups; hide Facebook posts/feeds that may be overwhelming.
• Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
• Let go of the thoughts or feelings. They will pass. You don’t have to respond to them.
How to support your children
• Remember that they are watching you and your responses. If you’re stressed and worried, they are generally absorbing those emotions. You are their role models.
• Reassure them they’re safe, and you’ll be with them and support them during this time.
• Let them talk about their worries. Give them a safe space to explore their emotions and what all of this means to them from their perspective.
• Limit their news exposure. Young minds often cannot make sense of everything they are hearing and seeing, so they might “fill in the blanks” with their own fears and worries.
• Create a routine and structure. Do what you can to set aside times for study, exercise and meals.
• Set up a study area while school is out, have them decorate it and make it their own.
As social beings, we need contact and interaction. People provide us with love, support, and a sense of purpose in life. It’s important to continue to be connected and interact with others.
How to still be connected when we are using social distancing, isolation, and quarantine
• Agree to regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you.
• Utilize FaceTime, texting, skype, and phone calls.
• Designate Family Fun times with play board games, puzzles, movies, or art projects
• Watch mass for shut-ins on Sunday mornings, facilitate a “Conversation and Christ” hour where you get together as a family and discuss the gospel and Sunday readings.
• Play sports in the back yard with family: soccer, Frisbee, tag, hide-and-go-seek, etc.
• Write letters to seniors and others who are isolated and mail them.
• Include children in making meals; make meals for homebound people living alone.
Other tips for isolation and quarantine
• Strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
• Schedule down time to relax and rejuvenate. Add extra time for daily stress relief.
• Continue to access nature and sunlight whenever possible.
• Exercise, eat well and stay hydrated; Limit alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, as well as over-eating.
• Keep yourself busy: complete the “to do” list, house projects, read books.
Holding on to Hope
• Panic, by confusing and frightening you, pulls us away from God’s help. It is not coming from God. What is coming from God? St. Ignatius tells us: God’s spirit “stirs up courage and strength, consolations, inspirations and tranquility.” So, trust in the calm and hope you feel. That is the voice to listen to. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
• “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
For support, call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Behavioral Health Services 402-829-9285
Domestic Violence Hotline 402-558-5700