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How to take care of your mental health durind the COVID-19 outbreak

27/03/2020 Psychology

Selene Gómez Macías, BS


Our entire 2020 has been filled with Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. The virus has had a high impact on health care systems all around the globe, and the global economy has also been affected.

On January 30th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the 2019- nCoV (COVID-19) outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency Crisis, leading to prevention methods to contain the virus and stop the spread. However, little has been said about mental health, which is just as important as physical health. It's no secret that how we perceive reality and interpret day to day events affects our quality of life.

When we deal with a crisis, it is common to experience intense emotions such as anger, sadness, anguish, fear, anxiety, and frustration, amongst other emotions. These negative feelings, in turn, affect our immune system, and we become more vulnerable to disease.

Humans are nonetheless well equipped to deal with adversity, we call this resilience.  So what is resilience? It is the process of adapting to adverse situations, trauma, tragedy, threat, significative tension sources, family problems or personal relations, serious health issues, work stress, and financial conditions.

Taking care of our mental health needs to be a priority, mainly because of the psychosocial risk that indefinite isolation represents. The uncertainty of not knowing when things are going to improve and the consequences that this situation will bring about. All of these things can cause different types of disorders.

For this reason, we want to share some helpful suggestions to deal with this most positively and functionally, because at Costamed we have made a commitment to your health,

  1. Designing an activity program for every member of the family: It is very tempting to act as if we are on holiday because there are no routines or time concerns. Therefore it feels like we can just engage in recreational activities. But after a certain period, coupled with uncertainty, this can generate depression and anxiety, amongst other feelings. Following an activity plan throughout the day will bring a sensation of stability, control, and productivity.
  2. Doing physical activity at home.- Staying at home shouldn't stop us from remaining physically active; physical activity improves our physical and mental health, protecting us from diseases. Nowadays, thanks to technology, there are many videos that you can watch online to do yoga, strength training, cardio, etc. Get creative! 
  3. Playing with the family.- In your daily activities program, we suggest that you destine some time to play with family. This way, you will strengthen family bonding time, you will be happier, and it's an opportunity to use your imagination and nurture your inner child.
  4. Eating healthy.-  Select foods high in vitamins and minerals to strengthen your immune system. Eat three healthy meals and 2 snacks, try not to overdo it, since it's a little harder to exercise during quarantine and overeating can be a symptom of depression and anxiety.
  5. Sleeping between 7 and 8 hours for adults, and it varies for children depending on age. Getting enough sleep is a fundamental pillar of wellbeing. Energy levels, intellectual function, alertness, humor, growth hormones, stress, breathing, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, all these benefit from getting enough sleep.
  6. Learning something new.- This is a great way to keep feeling productive and successful, it can be a musical instrument, a language, crafts, studying, etc.
  7. Limit the use of social media. We know that social media is one of the most used forms of communication. Nevertheless, there is so much fake news out there, and a limitless exposure to the same information can generate stress, anxiety, paranoia, and depression. This is why it is important to learn how to limit the use of social media. We also need to learn how to identify when social media is causing us emotional distress and distracting us from more nurturing activities. Instead of looking at your phone, talk to your loved ones, and engage in fulfilling activities with them. Whether it's your children, partner, parents, or pets. They are all much better than your phone.
  8. Support your family. A situation like this can help us foster values such as communication, respect, and support. It is essential to use this time to express and respect emotions and needs, to validate each other's feelings, bring comfort, and together work on a solution instead of worrying. Work on how to manage your budget during these tough times, since this worry is one of the biggest problems that affect our physical and emotional wellbeing.
  9. Have time for yourself. We are more focused on the outside than on the inside. There are many reasons for this, such as a lack of knowledge or bad habits. It is important to remember that we are multidimensional beings that need to invest time in our minds. This will allow you to know yourself, value yourself, and achieve serenity during tough times while finding your mission in life. A healthy practice for this can be meditation since it brings us benefits such as improving memory, concentration, consciousness, and emotional intelligence.
  10. Seek psychological health online.- If you feel that the current world situation is making you depresed or anxious. If it's leaving you feeling vulnerable and helpless, do not hesitate to seek psychological help. A good therapist will help you to find the tools that you need to find solutions to your problems and deal appropriately with your emotions. In Costamed, we have Telemedicine, and this is the best opportunity to take advantage of that technology, stay home, and get help. 

Evidently, there will always be situations that we cannot control, but what we can dominate are our thoughts. Our thoughts are powerful since they generate emotion and, as a consequence, the way we behave. We think about every crisis as something terrible, problematic, and dangerous. It causes anguish, fear, desperation, and paranoia. We need to change how we deal with negative situations and turn them into something positive. Take advantage of that extra time to work on yourself and your loved ones, identify what is making you feel worried, and work only on what is under your control.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."
Charles Darwin


Get to know your Psychologist, Selene Gomez Macias by clicking here