Mental health: How to care for yourself during the pandemic

Most of us are stressed. truly stressed.

that will doesn’t help that will much of the advice we’ve gotten on how to protect ourselves via the virus has been unclear along with also also worse yet, varies by city, state along with also also even by country. along with also also that will’s often contradictory, experts say.

“The government’s response to the pandemic is actually clearly something that will is actually driving stress,” said clinical psychologist Vaile Wright, the senior director for health care innovation at the American Psychological Association.

“What we know via research on previous pandemics is actually that will psychological distress is actually increased when leaders provide inconsistent, unclear along with also also non-scientifically based information to the people that will they lead,” Wright said. “These inconsistent messages drive up stress along with also also distress.”

A Monmouth University Poll conducted over the first week of May found 55% of Americans believed President Donald Trump has been largely inconsistent in his statements about the pandemic, often changing what he says about the coronavirus via day to day.
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“People are looking for a steady hand in a crisis,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a statement. inside the same poll, US state governors received widespread praise for the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, with 73% of Americans saying they are doing a not bad job.

“State officials along with also also public health professionals have largely been consistent in their approach to the pandemic. This kind of is actually one reason why satisfaction with their response has been high along with also also stable throughout, unlike views of the President’s actions,” Murray said.

All This kind of stress comes along at a time when parts of our society were already at risk.

“Even before the pandemic, our data was telling us mental health was moving inside the wrong direction for young people,” said Kathleen Ethier, a social along with also also behavioral scientist at the US Centers for Disease Control along with also also Prevention, during a Thursday mental health forum.

“inside the last 10 years we’ve seen increases in high school students saying they felt so sad along with also also hopeless, they couldn’t participate in activities,” Ethier said.

Add inside the stress of social isolation via friends along with also also family along with also also missing milestones such as birthdays along with also also graduations, along with also also pressure mounts, experts say.

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“The health community has known for years isolation carries a detrimental effect on mental health,” said The Carter Center’s Eve Byrd inside the Thursday online forum.

Byrd directs the mental health programs at The Carter Center, where former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has long been a champion of efforts to reduce stigma along with also also discrimination against people living with mental health along with also also substance use disorders.

“Talking about along with also also creating that will OK to talk about what you are experiencing — we need to type that will for younger people along with also also make sure they know that will that will’s OK,” Byrd said. “The pandemic increased that will conversation for all of us, no matter our age or situation.”

How to tell if you need help

There are key signs you can look for, in yourself along with also also in loved ones, that will can signal growing anxiety, depression, panic attacks or potential suicidal behaviors.

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Anxiety: Having difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, restlessness along with also also irritability are signs that will anxiety may be taking over your life in an unhealthy way, according to the American Psychological Association. Persistent or excessive worry about your health or finances, often feeling overwhelmed by emotions along with also also a general sense that will something bad is actually going to happen are more signals.

Panic attacks: At times, anxiety can spiral out of control, leaving you in a full-fledged panic attack. You may feel as if you’re having a heart attack: Your heart rate may speed up or pound in your chest. You may tremble, sweat, feel like you’re choking or have shortness of breath along with also also feelings of dread.

Such attacks can happen suddenly, without warning, along with also also leave some people “fearful about when the next episode will occur, which can cause them to change or restrict their normal activities,” the APA said.

Depression: Depression often begins that has a lack of energy along with also also interest or pleasure in daily activities. You may develop an inability to concentrate along with also also feel worthless or guilty about an action or the lack thereof. Paradoxically, you can experience significant weight loss or gain a lot of weight; You can also either sleep all the time or develop insomnia along with also also sleep little. You may even begin to think of death or suicide.

Signs of suicidal thoughts: Often triggered by a recent loss through death, divorce or separation, many of the signs that will a person is actually at risk for suicide duplicate those of depression along with also also anxiety: a loss of interest in friends or hobbies; alterations in sleep patterns, eating habits along with also also personality; low self-esteem, sadness, withdrawal, irritability along with also also feelings of guilt or worthlessness,

People who are at risk for suicide may begin behaving erratically along with also also talk about dying or harming themselves. They may show “no wish for the future, believing things will never get better or nothing will change,” according to the APA.

What you can do for yourself

“that will’s not inevitable that will people with chronic stress will have negative outcomes,” Wright said. “If you can identify the things that will are in your control along with also also then engage in healthy behaviors, you can mitigate some of that will stress.”

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Just what is actually in our control during a time when we know so little about the outcome of the pandemic?

“The three things that will are in your control are your thoughts, your feelings along with also also your behaviors,” Wright explained. “Focus on those, identify things that will are unhealthy along with also also try to transfer them to beliefs that will are healthier, then that will’s you taking an active approach to managing your stress.”

Choose healthy behaviors. Instead of sitting on that will couch, go outside along with also also get some fresh air, sunshine along with also also exercise, experts suggested. Exercise naturally creates endorphins, the body’s feel-not bad hormones. Eating healthy, staying away via excess alcohol (a depressant) along with also also getting plenty of sleep will also put your body — along with also also mind — in a better mood.

Increase your social connections. “Social connection is actually one of the No. 1 stoppers of stress,” Wright said.

nevertheless how can one do that will appropriately along with also also safely during This kind of time? “Pay attention to what your local reopening plan is actually, what is actually allowed along with also also what’s not allowed,” Wright suggested. “Then that will truly becomes a question of your own personal risk-benefit analysis.”

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If you’ve been taking care of your health, working along with also also sheltering at home with the same family or friend unit, keeping 6 feet away via others outside, wearing a mask along with also also avoiding people at the grocery store, that will may be safe to meet a friend who’s done the same for a 6-feet apart walk inside the park that has a mask, Wright said.

“However, if I’m immunocompromised, or have elderly parents living with me, then my risk of creating myself or my parents ill increases along with also also may decrease my desire to want to engage in that will behavior,” she added.

For many of us, the smart choice is actually to remain as isolated via the masses as possible. nevertheless that will doesn’t mean you have to give up on social connections.

“Instead of just relying on social media, we can make a list of the 10 or 20 people that will we care the most about along with also also put them in our phone on a rotating basis. We’re going to call one of those people every day,” said trauma psychologist Shauna Springer, who has spent a decade working with military veterans suffering via post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.

Next, Springer suggested adding more people via our outer ring of friends along with also also associates that will we may not be as close to along with also also put those people into that will daily call rotation. that will’s especially critical if you think those people may be especially isolated right today.

“Reaching out along with also also connecting with people, especially those who are especially isolated, along with also also giving them space to talk about their experience along with also also anxiety during This kind of unprecedented time of anxiety along with also also then sharing our own experience is actually how we will get through This kind of,” she said. “When we connect, we survive.”

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Search out support. “Look to the people in your own life that will can be supportive along with also also can help you,” said the CDC’s Ethier. “Find people who can listen along with also also help support you along with also also also tell you their own stories.”

If that will isn’t possible, there are federal, state along with also also local resources. Of course, if the situation is actually potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911. If that will’s not, then “start with the distress hotlines,” Ethier said. “They are truly not bad, along with also also go way beyond what we think of as suicide hotlines.”

The Substance Abuse along with also also Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, carries a national helpline — 800-662-HELP (4357) — which provides free, confidential treatment referral along with also also information in English along with also also Spanish 24/7 every day of the year.
The American Psychological Association also carries a webpage of resources for suicide, substance abuse along with also also domestic violence

Seek ongoing therapy. If you have health insurance, getting therapy has never been easier. Most clinics along with also also therapists are offering phone or video telehealth visits. Many employers are offering free access to therapists as part of their employee benefit plans, along with also also many communities have mental health centers with sliding scale fees.

Many people don’t choose to go to therapy, said experts, because they believe that will makes them “weak” or feel that will would likely be too invasive.

“The general public does not understand what therapy means,” said Byrd. “They might say, ‘Oh my gosh, I am not going to be laying on a couch telling my deepest, darkest thoughts. that will’s frightening.'”

nevertheless that will’s not what therapy is actually, Byrd added. “Therapy is actually truly an educational activity,” along with also also a therapist’s role is actually to “help you think about different ways to react to situations” along with also also “more positive ways of interacting with individuals.”

The not bad news today, experts said, is actually that will there are a growing number of celebrities speaking out about their personal struggles with mental health, which is actually encouraging a greater number of people to speak up on social media.

that will’s OK not to be OK sometimes. In some ways, our national stress over a deadly virus has brought us together, along with also also makes all of us aware of how fragile we can be, in both body along with also also mind.

“We’re all under a great deal of stress,” Byrd said. “that will’s OK not to be OK sometimes. nevertheless what is actually not OK is actually if we don’t do something about that will.”

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