May is Mental Health Awareness Month and with all the added stress of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic it is a perfect time to share these tips and suggestions. Coping with your stress will support your overall health. Don’t delay, get help today!
Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
How this pandemic affects you can depend on many factors including your background, support systems, medical conditions, and the community you live in.
People who may be more affected by the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, pray, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Connect with your loved ones
Check in with your loved ones often. Virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Consider connecting with loved ones by:
- Mailing letters or cards
- Text messages
- Video chat
Seeking help when you need to
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety:
- Schedule an appointment with your regular healthcare physician
- Seek help from a professional mental healthcare provider. Iowa Specialty Hospital offers counseling and therapy services at many of our locations and in the comfort of your home via telehealth. To schedule an appointment, call 844-474-4321.
- Call 911 if at any time you or a loved one feels like they want to harm themselves or others
While we’ve heard the phrase – we’re in this together – when it comes to protecting our mental health, nothing could be closer to the truth. As humans, we are meant to connect with others. Whether reaching out to friends and family, or seeking the help of a professional, connection can help to protect your mental health.