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COVID-19 and Your Mental Health

Tips to Lessen the Stress While at Home.

Apr 07, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced us all away from school, sports, activities, parties and friends.  It’s forced us to figure out how to learn, socialize and keep ourselves occupied at home full-time.  During this challenging time, it’s normal to feel physically or emotionally drained from sitting home and seemingly not doing much.  Not knowing what’s going to happen in the future can take an emotional toll on us.

If you feel fear, anger, sadness, irritability, guilt or confusion these days, keep connected to friends and people you love through video apps like Facetime or Zoom, and use your Kidzworld profile to stay connected with your friends.  Talk to them about it.  Chances are, they feel the same way.  Try the following ideas, as well.

Stay connected to friends and family.  Chances are they feel the same way you do!Stay connected to friends and family. Chances are they feel the same way you do!

Take it day by day.

Health experts are learning new information about this virus every day, and they don’t know exactly when it will run its course.  Because this is out of our control right now, accepting that the situation “is what it is” will give us more peace of mind.  We can focus on what we CAN do right now.  This means:

  • Staying up to date with your online schoolwork, but not obsessing over it.
  • Checking in with your school website regularly to feel connected. 
  • Learning the facts about the virus without dwelling on the situation. 

Do your best to stay up to date on your schoolwork, but try not to stress over it.Do your best to stay up to date on your schoolwork, but try not to stress over it.
  • Planning what you can right now, while taking each day as it comes. If you can reschedule cancelled events and activities, doing so will help give you something to look forward to.    
  • Focusing on your larger goals.  Spend at least an hour a day doing something you love. 
  • Waking up each day with a plan, and following a routine for yourself.  Let it include time for online school work, connecting with others, and self-care. 

Having a routine each day will help with anxiety.Having a routine each day will help with anxiety.

Do these things for yourself.

Find ways to move around at home. 

Exercise helps to lessen stress because it burns off the hormone cortisol, which creates the “fight or flight” stress response in us.  Go outside and walk, jog, or bike while staying away from others.  Try an online exercise or yoga class.

Sleep.

Teens need more sleep than adults, and feeling rested can help with stress.  Keep in mind that a willy-nilly sleep schedule will defeat the purpose and make it harder for you to deal with your stress; Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.

Self-care is especially important right now.  Take at least an hour each day to do something you love.Self-care is especially important right now. Take at least an hour each day to do something you love.

Don’t stress-eat.

You’re aimlessly staring at the pantry, not sure how you got there but convinced you need just one more snack.  Sound familiar?  That’s not to say snacks and comfort foods are bad in themselves—They aren’t.  If you feel yourself grabbing the box of ice cream without thinking about it, pause for a second and ask yourself why.  Did something upsetting trigger that response?  If so, think about an alternate response you can plan to do next time you get upset.

 

 Next time you find yourself snacking for no reason, ask yourself why. Next time you find yourself snacking for no reason, ask yourself why.

Take the lead.

Small actions taken during this crisis can help not only others, but you.  They not only lift your spirits, but will help you feel more in control.  If you feel like taking action, here are a few ideas:

  • Follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines.  Doing so helps to save lives, ease the strain on your local hospitals and stop the spread of germs in your community. 
  • Make sure your family and friends follow the mandated social distancing precautions. 

Everyone can help during this crisis--Including you.Everyone can help during this crisis--Including you.
  • Stay informed about what is happening with the virus, and what needs to be done. (However, constantly checking the news for updates can add stress.)
  • Support efforts in your community to help those in need at this time. 

Even small acts can make you feel like you're doing your part.  Follow hygiene and social distancing mandates.Even small acts can make you feel like you're doing your part. Follow hygiene and social distancing mandates.

Feel your pain.

Let your emotions out in all their glory.  Don’t resist asking for help or advice if you need it.  Try this exercise, especially if you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to right now:

Try a short meditation to work through your emotions.Try a short meditation to work through your emotions.
  1. Find a place that’s quiet and peaceful to you and get into a comfortable position.  Close your eyes and expand your belly like a balloon as you breathe in.  Deflate your belly as you breathe out.  Breathe in and out at a comfortable pace.  Pretend that you’re breathing in cleansing breaths, and breathing out all of your anxiety.
  2. As you breathe, bring your attention to your heart.  Let your heart feel everything that’s there.  Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings may come up; Just let it all out.
  3. Put one hand on your heart.  Pretend that light is flowing from your hand into your heart.  Pretend that the light is sending love and compassion to you.  Keep breathing comfortably, with steady breaths like ocean waves.  Compassion in, compassion out.  Throw your anxiety into the ocean waves.
  4. Stay here for at least 10 minutes and allow yourself to feel any emotion that comes up without judging yourself.  If your mind wanders throughout any of this, that’s okay.  Just bring your attention back to the breath.

Be kind and and patient with yourself during this challenging time.Be kind and and patient with yourself during this challenging time.

Finally, if you feel not quite yourself these days, cut yourself some slack.  Negative feelings may take awhile to navigate out of; Be patient with yourself if you’re in a funk.   And remember that this temporary, unprecedented situation will, in fact, end.

Allow yourself to feel angry, sad and anxious, and know that the situation is temporary.Allow yourself to feel angry, sad and anxious, and know that the situation is temporary.
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