As lockdowns continue and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many people are struggling with their mental health. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or dealing with other negative feelings, you are not alone – especially if you are going through family conflict during this difficult time.
To take care of others and show up for your family, you have to take care of yourself first. Below are some practical tips for looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Stay Informed, But Not Overinformed
Having the right information can help you avoid feelings of fear and stress. Find out what you can about COVID-19 and how local, state, and federal governments are working to keep you safe. Get your information from trusted news channels and keep up to date with the latest news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Right now, the news can be distressing so try to limit how much time you spend reading or watching the news – on TV, online, or via your social media feeds. WHO recommends seeking the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. Whatever you do, avoid “doomscrolling,” or fixating on bad news on social media and your newsfeed.
Establish a Healthy Routine
Whether or not you have children, try to maintain familiar routines as much as possible. If you need to stay at home, keep aspects of your old routine and create new ones that work for you and your situation. No matter what, try to:
- Get up and go to bed at similar times every day
- Shower, brush your teeth, and keep up with personal hygiene
- Eat healthy meals at regular times
- Exercise when you can and stay active
- Take deep breaths and stretch often (you can even try meditating)
- Try to get enough sleep
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other substances
Making time for work/school, rest, and leisure is important. Don’t forget to do something you enjoy every day, and if you have children, set aside time for play and creativity.
Connect with Others
Even if your movement is limited, spending quality time with others is important. Move your in-person visits to the telephone and the various online channels that are available to you. If you have children, you may want to talk to other parents who understand what you’re going through. The same is true for families dealing with divorce. In addition to talking with trusted friends and family members, you may even want to join a support group.
Teach your children how to use cell phones and the internet safely and help them communicate with their loved ones, too.
Limit Screen Time
Spending time away from screens can be difficult, but to take care of your mental health, you need breaks from on-screen activities. Be mindful of how long you are looking at a screen and try to schedule outdoor activities or spend time with the people in your household.
Maybe you and your children can take the family dog for a walk, or the next time you have an online catchup, make it a phone call instead and go for a walk while you talk!
In addition to screen time, you should avoid overindulging in food, alcohol, or other substances. Eating too much will make you feel worse, as will using drugs or alcohol to deal with fear, anxiety, boredom, and social isolation. During this time, you may want to cut back on or avoid drinking alcohol altogether.
Offer Help and Support to Others
Sometimes, thinking about other people is the best way to get out of a bad headspace. If you feel up to it, volunteer in your community or offer help and support to others in your community. Send a thank-you note to a healthcare worker or offer to go shopping for an elderly neighbor. You might feel much better afterward.
Be Honest, Be Kind
If someone asks you how you are doing, you do not have to say “fine.” Be honest about how you feel and try to connect to those around you – many of them may be feeling the same way.
Remember that everyone around you is dealing with many of the same fears and anxieties. Try not to express your emotions in ways that are harmful to others. When in doubt, be kind and do not discriminate against others – even if they are different than you or you do not understand their behavior.
Get the Help You Need
If you need extra help with your mental health during this time, therapy can be a great option. Talk to your insurance provider about what is available or consider an affordable online therapy subscription.
Sadly, many families have faced insurmountable difficulties during the pandemic, and cases of domestic violence have risen. If you need help removing you and your children from an unsafe situation, do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.
For help with a protective order or making changes to your family via divorce or mediation, look no further than Fenchel Family Law. Our honest, straightforward attorneys will give you the personalized attention you need and take a holistic approach to help you envision a new future.
If you’re ready to take the next step, discuss your situation with our team at (415) 650-1112 or online today.