A lack of routine, doubt, and anxiety may be defining your “new normal” right now. We want you to know that whatever you’re going through, whether it’s missing time with friends or feeling anxious about the news, you’re not alone. And we’re here to help.
Focus on what you can control, like following the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on personal hygiene (frequent handwashing for 20 seconds) and practice social distancing (standing at least six feet apart from others). This is the part you do have control over, and it will likely reduce your risk.
Dr. Seth Resnick offers advice on how to cope, including reducing screen time, taking free exercise classes online, and finding creative ways to keep in touch.
Reduce screen time to avoid information overload.
Getting the latest updates from trusted health sources is helpful, but watching TV and following social media all day long isn’t always productive or healthy. Notice how your body responds when exposed to your phone, tablet, or TV screen for an extended period of time. Does your heart rate increase? Does your breathing pattern change?
If so, take measured steps to address it:
- Turn off your TV for a few hours each day.
- Reduce or turn off social media notifications.
- Identify just one or a few trusted resources to keep informed.
- Trade the news for a favorite TV show. But be sure to also take time to get away completely and give your mind a break.
Keep in touch without touching.
Do you have lunch regularly with your coworkers, but are now working from home? Use video chat to keep your lunch date and stay engaged. Did you have to cancel a dinner with a close friend? Set a time to call your friend to catch up while you eat together. It is critical to maintain social distancing, but you can still keep in touch with family, friends, and coworkers.
As you manage your daily life, look ahead.
Look forward to the weeks and months past this crisis to potentially boost your overall mood. Be kind to yourself and know your limits as you try to make these changes. We are all in this together and there are many resources and support structures in place to help you throughout this challenging period.
Your Mental Health Action Plan
Maybe you’re working from home for the first time or balancing work with having children at home. Life may feel more unpredictable than ever. Don’t worry—you can adopt these habits anytime, no matter what’s going on in the world.
- Stressed over the news? Limit it. Balance is key. If a news story is worrying you or keeping you up at night, make sure to sneak in some favorite movies or TV shows. Remember to put away your phone or laptop at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Maintain a sense of routine. Have a regularly scheduled gym time? You can still use that time to get moving. Check online to see if your favorite gym or yoga studio is offering online classes. Or make the most of a spring day with a walk or jog, being mindful of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines on social distancing.
- Call a friend. If you can’t be with the people you care about, hearing their voices may calm your nerves. This is especially important for those who are quarantined. Reach out by phone or email and let them know you’re thinking about them. You can also schedule video chats through free programs like FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Hangouts on your smartphone.
- Get back to basics. Remember to keep a balanced diet—this could be the time to pick up that cookbook you’ve been meaning to try. Surround yourself with what makes you happy, whether it’s snuggles from a pet or a favorite song.
- Try a new hobby. This could be a great opportunity to try something new, like an online class or a new recipe. You can also plan goals you want to accomplish long-term. Create a bucket list of items you want to eventually achieve, such as learning a new language, taking up knitting, or trying a new sport.
- Spring clean. Have tasks around the house you’ve been meaning to get to for months? Want to give your space a fresh look with a DIY home improvement project? Now could be the time to make it happen!
- Lend a hand. Have an elderly friend or neighbor who could use some help? Offer to pick up groceries or medicine for them, being mindful of CDC guidelines on social distancing.
- (Remote) volunteer for a cause. Keep up with your favorite charity organizations by thinking of ways to be a remote volunteer. For example, you can use your professional skills in areas like tech or design to help with marketing or social media. You can also join a cause like sewing masks with CDC approved materials for healthcare workers to use on the frontlines while facilities face shortages.
Remember: If your stress feels overwhelming or unmanageable, get help now. Call 888-447-2526 (Montefiore members 800-401-4822) for confidential, 24/7 support. You can also visit our Live Well page.
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