The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we do everything, and it has impacted most people’s mental health negatively.
You may be worried about contracting the virus, your family falling ill, the duration of the pandemic, finances, and what the future will hold. It is normal to experience stress, sadness, anxiety, and fear, to say the least. Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, can worsen.
Some people have increased their alcohol and drug intake, thinking that it will help them cope during this challenging time. The reality is, abusing illicit substances can worsen one’s mental health.
If you or a loved one is struggling during this uncertain time, it is crucial to learn self-care strategies.
Everyone Deals with Stress Differently
How you handle stress during the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on various factors, such as your background, social support from family and friends, finances, health and emotions, community, among other factors.
Furthermore, the following groups of people may experience more stress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- People who are at the highest risk of COVID-19 complications, including the elderly and those with certain underlying medical conditions.
- Children and teenagers
- Frontline workers, such as first responders and healthcare providers
- Workers in the food industry
- People with mental health disorders
- People who abuse illicit substances
- People who have been laid off from work or have had their hours reduced
- People dealing with social isolation
- People experiencing homelessness
As you can see, everyone is affected by the pandemic to an extent—some more than others. Now more than ever, it is essential to take care of our mental health, even if it may seem impossible.
Best Ways to Take Care of Yourself During COVID-19
Practicing self-care is beneficial to your mental and physical health, as it can help you stay in control of your life.
Mental Health Guidance:
Practice your regular routine: Sticking to a set schedule is important for your well-being. Besides following your regular bedtime routine, keep consistent meal times, get dressed (even if you are not going out), shower frequently, and exercise as much as you can. It is equally important to set aside free time to do the hobbies you enjoy.
Do not tune in as much: Being bombarded by the newest developments and tragedy regarding the virus can make us live in a perpetual state of anxiety. If you notice that you are becoming increasingly upset, it is best to limit reading, hearing, or watching news about the pandemic on a regular basis; however, you should check in once in a while to make sure you are up to date on local and national safety recommendations.
Keep your priorities straight: Do not overwhelm yourself by creating a life-changing list of projects to achieve while you spend more time at home. Set attainable goals each day and outline small steps you can take to achieve these goals. Give yourself a pat on the back for every step you take in the right direction, no matter how seemingly small.
Stay preoccupied: A healthy distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Pick up new hobbies that you can do at home or conquer household tasks that you have been meaning to take care of, such as cleaning your closet.
Connect with loved ones: If you are staying at home and keeping your distance from loved ones, make sure you are not isolating yourself. Partake in virtual socializing and video chat with friends, family, and coworkers.
Physical Health Guidance:
Get the proper amount of sleep: Go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. Follow your regular schedule as close as possible, even if you are staying at home.
Eat as healthy as possible: Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid eating too much junk food and refined sugars. Limit your caffeine intake as it can worsen stress and anxiety.
Reduce screen time: Set time aside each day to focus on activities that do not require screen time. Make it a goal to stop using your phone or tablet 30 minutes before bedtime.
Relax and stay hopeful: Carve out some “me” time. Even five minutes of alone time can be refreshing and help reduce anxiety. You may benefit from mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or even tai chi. Get lost behind a wall of bubbles and take a bath, listen to new music, or read that book you have been meaning to finish. Pick a technique that works for you and stick to it.
Avoid tobacco products, drugs, and alcohol: Unfortunately, people who smoke tobacco or vape are at higher risk of lung disease. Since COVID-19 affects the lungs, people who constantly use these products are more at risk of experiencing health complications if they contract the virus. Furthermore, depending on alcohol to cope can make matters worse and may stray you away from healthy coping mechanisms. Avoid using drugs to cope, unless your doctor prescribed them.
The Correlation Between Drug Usage and COVID-19
During these unprecedented times, people who are suffering or recovering from drug addiction are vulnerable. The stress of being isolated and other COVID-related life changes can lead to or worsen drug abuse. It is important to note that most people with addiction have an underlying mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, that lead them to doing drugs in the first place.
Although turning to these substances can make you feel better temporarily, they can alter your brain to the point where you will feel worse in the long run. It is imperative that you seek help if you notice your drug usage is spiraling out of control or if you find yourself craving drugs again.
Ardu Recovery Center Cares
Focusing on your mental health is challenging when everything is drastically changing due to the pandemic; however, it is of the utmost importance. At Ardu Recovery Center, we have helped people from all walks of life with different mental health disorders and addictions reclaim their lives.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and mental illness, you can turn to our dual diagnosis treatment center for comprehensive, holistic treatment. We are closely following this ever-changing situation and implementing the CDC’s safety guidelines.
Please reach out to us with any questions you may have. We are located in scenic Provo, Utah.