5 Tips for Emotional Health
June 09, 2020
It feels like this is never going to end.” This is something I hear from both my clients and people in my personal life. The reality is that we have been social distancing, in quarantine and in phase 1 for a longer amount of time than we had all anticipated. This is a new experience for everyone. There is a lot of focus on how to take care of our physical health, such as frequent hand washing, but there is limited information on how to care for our mental health. Already, COVID-19 has had a big impact on our mental health, how we cope and what our days consist of. So how do we care for our emotions during this time? How do we cope with the struggles we are all experiencing?
The following are five tips I tell all my clients to practice. I encourage you to try these out and share them with others in your life.
1. Create and maintain a healthy daily routine
- COVID-19 has created drastic changes to our daily schedule. This could be adjusting to working from home instead of going to an office, not working anymore, not being able to go places for leisure activities, such as the gym, or feeling scared to leave the house. Recognize the changes in your daily schedule and create a new one.
- A balanced plan for the day would include work, leisure, self-care and fun activities. This also includes maintaining good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and engaging in physical activity.
- I recommend starting each morning by setting an intention for your day to add focus and stay grounded.
2. Be aware of the amount of news you are watching and reading
- While it is important to stay informed, it is equally important to take breaks. I recommend setting a timer and only watching/reading the news during that time.
- Be aware of overwhelming yourself with frequent updates, we all have a limit to what is helpful and what we can handle.
3. Set reasonable expectations on yourself
- There seems to be a lot of pressure to pick up a new hobby or activity every day during quarantine. You do not need to do this! Learning something new can be helpful, but do what you can and make it reasonable for yourself to achieve it.
- It feels a lot better to achieve our goals than it does when we set ourselves up for failure.
4. Stay connected to family and friends
- Phone calls and video chats are great ways to feel connected to others while also staying safe.
- Schedule times to check in weekly with your support network.
- It is okay to ask for what you need and want during this time.
5. Get support and breathe
- You have permission to ask for support during this time. This can be utilizing your support network or reaching out for professional help through a therapist or other psychiatric services.
- Remember to breathe. When we take slow and deep breaths it can calm down both our body and our mind.
- Square breathing is one of the most popular breathing techniques to help us focus on our breath, slow it down, and/or practice a moment of mindfulness. You breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, and hold for 4 counts.
You are not alone in this struggle, and it is okay if it has been difficult to cope. Overlake offers inpatient psychiatric care, a day program, and outpatient services. If you are in need of help, we are here for you. Together, we will make it through these times.
Caroline Cutrone, MSW, LICSW is a social worker with Overlake's Outpatient Psychiatry clinic.