Staying Mentally Healthy During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Dec 14, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic may be stressful to many people’s mental health. It is common to be experiencing increased stress during this pandemic. Fear, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness about COVID-19 and what could happen can be overwhelming. These feelings and social distancing practices can cause strong emotions in adults and children making many feel isolated and lonely. While social distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, staying mentally healthy during COVID by practicing self care is equally as important. Coping with stress in a healthy way and seeking help from a mental health professional can help ease these feelings of anxiety and fear.
Are People More Depressed During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
A recent study found that depression symptoms were three times higher during COVID-19 lockdown than before the Coronavirus pandemic, up from 8.5% before COVID-19 to 27.8% during. These are stressful times for people’s well-being due to feelings of social isolation from social distancing measures.
If you feel your mental health is suffering during COVID-19, there are health steps you can take to improve your well-being. Speaking with a mental health professional is a great way to cope with your emotions during stressful times.
How Does COVID-19 Affect Mental Health?
How a person responds to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on their background, social support from family or friends, financial situation, health and emotional background, the community they live in, and many other factors. Feelings of stress and anxiety left unaddressed can manifest into other issues such as high blood pressure, physical violence, substance abuse, and more. Working with a mental health professional can help in staying mentally healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic.
A good night’s sleep is a critical biological process required for physical and mental health. The National Sleep Foundation advises that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.
An appropriate night of sleep each night empowers an effective immune system, heightens our brain functions, enhances moods, and improves mental health. Besides depression, studies have found that a lack of sleep is linked with mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It is important to establish a healthy sleep routine during the COVID-19 pandemic which can help in dealing with stresses. Some recommendations are:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day including weekends.
- Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can occur at the same time. Physical symptoms, behavioral changes, and emotional symptoms caused by anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling fatigued easily affecting sleep hygiene
- Difficulty concentrating or recalling
- Muscle tension
- Racing heart
- Grinding/Clenching teeth
- Sleep difficulties, including problems falling asleep and restless, unsatisfying sleep
- Restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge
- Difficulty controlling worry or fear
Depression is the flip side of the coin to anxiety which a behavioral health specialist can help you with. Physical symptoms, behavioral changes, and emotional symptoms caused by depression include:
- Decreased energy, chronic fatigue, or feeling sluggish frequently
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or recalling
- Pain, aches, cramps, or gastrointestinal problems without any clear cause
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Difficulty sleeping, waking early, or oversleeping
- Loss of interest or no longer finding pleasure in activities or hobbies
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Anger, irritability, or restlessness
- Feeling guilty or experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
- Thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide
- Suicide attempts
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and/or behaviors that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over — such as compulsive cleaning/disinfecting. Another issue for people living with OCD is the constant stream of news and information — this can be very overwhelming.
It is important to make sure you are focussing on your mental health during this time. Consider speaking with a behavioral health specialist or mental health experts. Some tips and tricks for coping with OCD during the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Remember to eat, drink water, and get plenty of sleep. This is the foundation to staying mentally healthy during COVID.
- Go outside. Getting fresh air and sunshine improves your mental health. Going for a walk or getting light exercise is a great way to improve your well-being.
- Focus on “staying connected” instead of being “over-informed.” Give yourself a set amount of time to read/watch the news and interact on social media. Increased exposure to news can increase fears and feelings of stress.
- Don’t create extreme rules for yourself or others during COVID-19. Instead, follow guidelines and recommendations from the CDC.
- Accept that there is a possibility you may still get sick. Take every precaution you can, but understand you may still get sick due to no fault of your own.
What Can I Do To Cope With Stress During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
There are many healthy ways to cope with stress during COVID-19. Staying mentally healthy during COVID is extremely important. Coping practices include maintaining a healthy lifestyle through routine, ensuring you have a support system, and knowing when to ask for help. Mindfulness, meditation, practicing yoga skills and other forms of self-care are effective strategies that can also boost your mood.
While it may be tempting to turn to technology by picking up that video game, binge watch that show, or have a few drinks — sometimes the best action is to turn off the screen, stay away from the alcohol, and have some quiet time to yourself. Establishing a healthy routine, exercising, deep breathing, eating a balanced diet, and having a support system will increase your well-being and overall mental health.
Physical activity can make you feel better, function better, and sleep better. Just one session of moderate-to-vigorous physical health activity reduces anxiety. Being physically active also promotes growth and development, improves overall health, and can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. While it may be difficult to remain physically active while social distancing, it is possible and important. Try taking a daily walk around your neighborhood or parks, you’ll be getting exercise and some time outdoors!
Nutrition is about more than vitamins—it is about balance and includes fiber and healthy fats. Here are a few things to keep in mind when establishing a health, balanced diet:
- Cut out trans fats (such as fried foods) and add healthy fats instead like avocado, fish, and cold-pressed oils.
- Getting too much of certain ingredients, such as sodium (salt) is not good. Sodium increases blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Fiber in your diet helps keep you regular, helps you feel fuller longer, helps control blood sugar, and lowers cholesterol levels. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans and peas) are good sources of fiber.
- Aim for a variety of colors on your plate each day. Foods like dark, leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Swap dried herbs for fresh herbs as well.
A support system can include family and relatives, coworkers, friends, fellow members of faith, crisis counselling and more. A support person is someone you can share your concerns and how you are feeling. It is important during COVID-19 to maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system to support your mental health during the pandemic.
Mental Health Professional
When your body’s stress response system is activated long-term, you could be at higher risk for a variety of issues, including digestive problems, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and more. A mental health professional, such as members of HealthCore Clinic’s Behavioral Health Department, is someone specifically trained to help you cope with your feelings, emotions, and stressors.
Where Can I Get Emotional Support During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
If your daily activities have been disrupted for several days in a row due to stress, call your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment with an expert. There are many free and confidential resources that can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained mental health professional in your area.
Find A Healthcare Provider Or Treatment For Substance Use Disorder And Mental Health
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline:
- Treatment Services Locator Website
- Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers
- HealthCore Clinic
Get immediate help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline
- CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- The Eldercare Locator
- Veteran’s Crisis Line
How To Get Help With Mental Health During COVID-19
At HealthCore Clinic, our culturally appropriate mental health services are designed to reduce stigma and provide a comfortable and safe environment for the management of anxiety, depression, trauma, and behavioral support for other mental health and medical diagnoses.
We also believe financial concerns should not be a barrier to receiving high quality healthcare services. We accept KanCare / Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. We offer sliding scale fees and prescription assistance for those not covered by insurance.
HealthCore’s Step-by-Step Process To Meet With A Mental Health Professional
Whether you are new to HealthCore Clinic or an existing customer, we are here for you. We’ve made it easy to talk with a mental health professional during COVID-19. Here’s how:
- Call (316) 691-0249
- Request an appointment with our behavioral health department
- You will be scheduled with a member of our team based on your needs
- Fill out a new patient form if you are new to HealthCore Clinic
It’s that easy. Call us or send us a message and we will happily get you scheduled to speak with a member of our behavioral health team. We are here for you.
Plan Your Visit
Mon–Thur: 8am – 7pm
Friday: 8am – 5pm
Saturday: 8am – 12pm
Hours are temporarily limited due to COVID-19.
2707 E 21st St N
Wichita, KS 67214
After-Hours Immediate Care: (316) 262-6262
Clinical Fax: (866) 514-0974
Dental Fax: (888) 662-7106
HealthCore Clinic is unlike most medical offices you’re familiar with. Patients are more actively engaged in improving their health through a team-based approach. We use responsive preventative services, including research-based initiatives that will allow patients access to premier medical advances.
Our integrated care approach means that our clients have convenient, affordable access to improve their whole health and wellness all under one roof—with medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services all under one roof.