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How to Manage Your Mental Health When Feeling Stressed During COVID-19

If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

Feelings of worry, stress or fear can be scary and affect your mental and physical health. It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal, especially during a crisis, and can vary in severity from mild uneasiness to intense emotions depending on the person.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 pandemic can cause strong feelings of stress for adults and children, including:

  1. Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  2. Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  3. Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  4. Worsening of chronic physical health problems
  5. Worsening of mental health conditions

If you’re experiencing any of these, there are ways to manage your symptoms and cope while maintaining physical distancing.

The CDC recommends a few ways to cope with feelings of stress, including:

  1. Take breaks from the news, including on social media.
  2. Take care of your body with healthy meals, exercise and deep breathing techniques.
  3. Take time to relax and do at-home activities you enjoy.
  4. Connect with your loved ones.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends key self-care strategies to take care of your mental health and well-being while at home:

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including appropriate sleep, exercise and diet.
  2. Don’t use alcohol or other drugs to cope with feelings of sadness or anxiety.
  3. Follow a credible source for information about COVID-19, such as WHO or CDC.
  4. Limit how much time you spend watching or listening to news that makes you upset.
  5. Use coping mechanisms that have helped you in the past during difficult situations.

You can also use self-care tips from the MHFA curriculum, including relaxation therapy and light therapy to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Knowing which tools are available is a good first step when it comes to dealing with feelings of stress and anxiety. Everyone experiences — and manages — stress in different ways. If these self-care strategies don’t work for you, consider reaching out to loved ones or an online therapist for additional support and #BeTheDifference for yourself.

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