In moments of crisis, we all feel deeply and differently.
Feelings of anxiety, worry, fear and confusion are common. Some people feel determined, optimistic, even hopeful. Others are simply annoyed or frustrated. And then there are those who burn out, exhausted by the frenzy or responsibility.
Recognizing these feelings in ourselves, and acknowledging and respecting them in others is critically important as we weather the storm of a crisis together. Protecting mental health during any crisis, not only a pandemic, affects our ability to manage all facets of our health and lives.
As you process your emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer these tips to stay well.
Get information from a trusted resource
If you’re looking for facts and regular updates on the state of the new coronavirus in your state, a great resource is your public health department. The Ohio Department of Health is working in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and OhioHealth is monitoring the latest. We have also used this information and worked with our experts to develop a COVID-19 toolkit that we will continue to update.
Speak to an expert, not your Facebook friend
If you have specific questions related to the new coronavirus or COVID-19, talk with an expert. The Ohio Department of Health has opened a call center staffed by licensed nurses and infectious disease experts. You can reach them from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily by calling 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH (427-5634). You can ask questions about things like how to protect yourself from COVID-19, what resources are available in your community, and where you can get tested.
Purposefully limit media exposure
Research shows that excess media exposure during a stressful event can result in negative mental health outcomes. Don’t sit around all day with the television on the news – the information isn’t drastically changing by the minute. If you feel the need to stay informed by news sources, identify one or two trusted sources, and schedule times to monitor them for updates. For example, tune into Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s news conferences, or watch the evening news each day.
Also try to limit media exposure around children or friends and family that may be feeling anxious. Watch it in a different room or tune in on your mobile device using earbuds.
Keep connected, but distance yourself if it’s too much
Social media can be informational and helpful, creating virtual communities that may otherwise be separated. Being and feeling connected can be a valuable outlet.
But if you find that social media is stressing you out more than helping you out, take a break and distance yourself from it. Instead, consider reaching out directly to a few close friends and family by phone or other means.
Recognize signs of distress in yourself and others, and call for help
Stress, worry and fear burden your health. These emotions can lead to sleep or eating challenges (too little or too much), difficulty concentrating, feelings of isolation, fighting or tension in relationships, unexplained aches and pains, thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, or drinking or smoking more than you should.
If you or someone you know is in distress, get help. The Ohio Department of Health recommends calling the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1 (800) 985.5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746. The helpline is open 24/7.
Your employer may also have resources, such as an Employee Assistance program.
During this high-stress time, it’s more important than ever to practice behaviors that support your physical and mental health.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat healthy foods to help boost your immune system and make you feel better.
- Exercise daily. Consider going for a solo walk or run during breaks in your day or try yoga. There are lots of great tools for at home workouts online and on our OhioHealth blog.
- Keep doing hobbies you enjoy to improve your mood, just adapt them if necessary.
- Stay connected with others.