As millions of Americans adjust to the changes brought by the Coronavirus, mental health has now become a bigger priority than ever before. A new poll from the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index found that 30% of Americans reported their mental health has worsened due to the Coronavirus. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some stress-related symptoms that may appear include changes in sleep patterns, increased anxiety, and issues with substance abuse.
Here are 10 tips you can incorporate in your everyday life to nurture your mental and emotional health during the pandemic.
1. Create a new routine
Creating a routine creates stability. Although you can’t copy everything you did prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, by practicing your usual activities you set boundaries that will help you stay productive and healthy. Routines are also beneficial if you have children because it gives them a sense of security and normalcy.
2. Exercise regularly
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Exercising is one of the best ways to naturally boost your mood. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Try virtual classes, practice yoga, follow a Zumba dance routine, or take a brisk walk around your neighborhood (but be sure you’re compliant with local social distancing requirements).
3. Connect with friends and loved ones
Thanks to technology, connecting has never been easier. Call, text, and video chat with your friends and loved ones. If you have older parents or relatives who aren’t technology-savvy, make sure you check in on them periodically. Here are some free video hangout tools:
- Google Hangouts
4. Limit the news
As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” As misinformation about the Coronavirus runs rampant on social media and other sites, it may be best for your mental health to cut down your news consumption. Limit yourself to trusted and authoritative organizations.
5. Practice deep breathing
When done properly, deep breathing is proven to lower stress levels and manage anxiety. To do a simple breathing exercise, close your eyes, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Each time you breathe in, completely fill your lungs with air. Repeat this for 5-10 minutes straight.
6. Start a hobby
Mental stimulation is key to ensure your brain stays healthy and sharp. If you’re stuck at home with nowhere to go, prevent boredom from creeping in by starting a hobby. Here are some low-cost and quarantine-friendly activities you can try:
- Playing games
- Taking online courses
7. Get some sunlight
Soaking in some sunshine a few minutes a day has numerous benefits. Studies have shown that spending as little as 15 minutes in the sunlight increases the production of vitamin D and serotonin, which help improve your mood and strengthen your immunity.
8. Seek help
If you are seeking treatment for your mental health, there are ways you can get help. There are various options for online therapy, and some health professionals are conducting online meetings. If your mental health needs are urgent, call the Crisis Disaster Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.
9. Get Financial Support
If you or a loved one have been affected by the coronavirus and can’t afford medications, food, or expenses, there are a few resources and programs that can bring you peace of mind.
- For relief on medication or food costs, check out the HealthWell Foundation or
- Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, additional benefits may be available for those eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Learn more about the SNAP program and benefits on the USDA website.
- The CARES Act offers some provisions for those with home loans, including suspending foreclosures for 60 days after March 18, 2020, and providing homeowners with a right to forbearance due to financial hardship. Learn more at consumerfinance.gov.
- If you have outstanding federal student loans, the government has automatically suspended principal and interest payments on federal student loans through September 30, 2020. Learn more at consumerfinance.gov.
- If you are a small business owner, the CARES Act recently launched the Paycheck Protection Program to assist business owners with covering payroll.
10. Support your community
Support your local community by lending a hand to those in need. Run a few errands for elderly neighbors, pick up groceries, or donate food to a local shelter. When you’re restocking supplies, consider shopping locally to help small businesses stay afloat. You can also pick up takeout meals or opt for curbside pickup from local businesses, who may be harder hit during the pandemic. By supporting your community, you’re contributing to your local economy. Research has also shown that by helping others, your brain promotes physiological changes that can make you feel happier.