Coping with Coronavirus for Your Mental Health
No matter where you live, how old you are, what you do for work, or how healthy you are, coronavirus is most likely impacting your mental health in some way, shape, or form. As a graduate student living in New York City, where an imminent shelter-in-place may not necessarily be unrealistic, I have faced several lifestyle changes, for better or for worse. Furthermore, as someone diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I need to tend to my mental health during this coronavirus pandemic.
How Coronavirus Is Impacting My Mental Health
Coronavirus is impacting my mental health in anxiety-provoking ways. Thanks to both my depression and my generalized anxiety disorder, I often ruminate for hours upon hours. This rumination increases when I am alone during extended moments of free time. Thus, the thought of a shelter-in-place being enacted in my city terrifies me. Although social distancing and quarantining are crucial safety measures, these changes have left me with extended solo time on my hands, where I am left alone with my anxious thoughts. I feel restless and trapped at times.
Furthermore, my school is essentially canceled for the remainder of the semester. To receive my Masters in Social Work, I have been interning at a psychiatric facility for at least 24 hours a week. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I cannot go to my internship.
Now, my days stretch on as I sit inside my house with no deadlines, no assignments, no school work. restaurants, bars, and many stores in New York City have shut down, and everyone is encouraged to stay inside. With this expectation to stay inside comes my depressive symptoms.
In high school, I loved withdrawing and staying in my bed for extended periods of time. However, the more that I removed myself, the more depressed I got. Therefore, I fear that my depression will crop back up during this period of social distancing/quarantining. Without classes to attend or an internship to spend time at, I fear that I may lack the motivation to get out of bed. However, this past week, I have been working hard on preserving my mental health.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
During my most severe periods of depression, my therapist and I worked on creating a schedule of activities for me to complete daily. These events ranged from working on my jigsaw puzzle to reading my book to taking a walk. The idea was that engaging in these behaviors could beneficially impact my mood.
My therapist wanted me to engage in behavioral activation and keep myself both occupied and motivated to get out of bed. When I learned of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, I feared that I would lose the ability to engage in activities, such as going to the gym or hanging out with friends. Although I do have to limit what activities I can engage in, there are many things one can do while practicing social distancing.
Now is a great time to practice a new hobby, such as baking, cooking, writing, knitting, etc. I have found great joy in reading books for pleasure, as well as books pertaining to my impending professional career (mental health therapist). Furthermore, since many gyms are closed, many workout studios are placing free workout videos online. I personally have been finding amazing free yoga videos to follow every day. Although you may be stuck inside, if you are creative, you can still keep yourself busy and occupied.
It is also worth noting that although we are expected to keep our physical distance, this doesn't mean that we need to keep our emotional distance. Although communicating via technology doesn't have the same feel as talking in person, it still is beneficial to stay in touch with friends during this stressful time. Human connection is essential for our mental health, and talking to the ones we love can keep us grounded.
How is the coronavirus impacting your mental health? How are you coping with the changes? Share your comments below.
O'Grady, H. (2020, March 17). Coping with Coronavirus for Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2020/3/coping-with-coronavirus-for-your-mental-health