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Self-care: Take Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

“It was crushing to try to manage it all by myself,” Cera Flynn shared in a recent Cleveland Clinic article. “When you’re in quarantine, you’re limited. My mom and other people couldn’t come in and help to take the kids or do laundry or let me just lay down and take a nap. I felt like I was adrift.”

COVID-19 changed everything for Cera. Her job as an instructional coach for charter school teachers went from being in-person to completely virtual and from home. Her twin sons started attending school online. Her husband contracted COVID-19, forcing the family to quarantine.

These were just a few of the factors that had an impact on Cera’s mental health and well-being. And we know she’s not alone in her concerns. COVID-19 has been stressful for a lot of us. We have missed trips, celebrations, graduations. We are at home working, learning and staying locked down with our families.

Physical distancing can be tough, so it’s important to take care of your mental health during this time. A robust self-care routine is a great way to care for yourself when life feels overwhelming — or any other time. You can implement self-care when you’ve had a hard day, before you go to bed, or simply because it’s Wednesday and you feel like it. What’s most important is having a routine that works for you and your mental health.

Self-care can be whatever you want or need it to be. The best part about a self-care plan is that it’s your plan, and nobody else’s. These tips from the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum can help you practice self-care and take care of your mental health during COVID-19.

  1. Look for opportunities to laugh! Laughing helps release endorphins, our bodies’ feel-good hormones.
  2. Get enough sleep. Adults usually need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you find you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, try limiting technology use prior to bed and having a consistent night routine. Having a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading are great ways to wind down and signal your brain that it’s time to get ready for bed.
  3. Exercise as appropriate. Exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. Choose something you enjoy — this can be anything from running around with your kids or playing fetch with your dog, to lifting weights or practicing yoga.
  4. Create a “no” list. It’s more than okay to set healthy boundaries for things that no longer serve you. This can be anything from not checking your email at a certain time to not attending every event you’re invited to.
  5. Be kind to yourself. You spend the most time with yourself, so make sure your relationship with the person in the mirror is a positive one. This is something you can practice and can be as simple as saying you’re proud of yourself today.
  6. Stay connected. Even with physical distancing guidelines in place, you can stay connected to friends and loved ones through technologies like video calls and phone calls. Lean on your social support networks if you feel overwhelmed or lonely — we are all experiencing this uncertain time together.

It feels good to take care of yourself and do things you enjoy, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Getting support from a mental health professional or someone you trust is also self-care, and you deserve the support.

That’s what Cera did. With the help of her long-time therapist, she was able to make her mental health a priority and implement self-care and coping mechanisms that made every day a little bit easier.

Learn about more ways you can care for yourself while practicing physical distancing. You can #BeTheDifference for yourself every day, even during COVID-19.