The COVID-19 pandemic has probably altered to how you live your life. It’s caused a great deal of uncertainty, changed your daily routines, caused financial pressures, and isolated you from friends and family. Suddenly having to navigate online classes may have made school a lot harder. You may be worried about getting sick or stressing out about the future.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. Plus your mental health, like anxiety and depression, can worsen.
It’s important that you learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.
- Do what’s right for you. Don’t compare yourselves to others. The pandemic is not a competition that you need to win. Don’t feel like you need to use this time to learn a new language, bake bread, or clean your whole apartment top to bottom if you don’t want to. If the best you can do today is get up and get dressed, then that’s fine. Maybe tomorrow you can do more. And if you can’t then that’s fine too.
- Try to stick to a schedule. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Stick close to your typical schedule or make up a new schedule. Keep consistent times for meals, studying, work, and bathing.
- Be kind to yourself. Stress can affect you in many ways. So if you are having a hard time focusing, remembering things, or doing school work, remember that these are totally normal reactions to stress and anxiety. Try to do some work in short bursts and then take a little break. Do 20 minutes worth of math and then take a walk around the block.
- Know your stress triggers. If certain people or situations are causing you a lot of stress, do your best to avoid them. You may need to unfollow people on social media or limit how much news you read online
- Eat a well-balanced diet. In stressful times, eating comfort foods feels good, so eat mac n cheese, pasta, brownies, or whatever else makes you happy. But also try to fit in some healthier foods too.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. These things might make you feel good in the short term, but they don’t help in the long run.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine can aggravate stress and anxiety. Plus, drinking too much caffeine can interfere with your sleep.
- Get outside and get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Studies show that spending time outside might reduce stress and improve mood. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise every day or so. If you can’t get outside, check out some free YouTube exercise channels, most don’t require any fancy equipment and you can do them in your living room.
- Try some relaxation exercises. There are several meditation apps (many people like Calm). You can also look on YouTube for free relaxation videos, like this one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Connect with others. Don’t just mindlessly scroll through TikTok and Instagram, try to hang out with someone online. Meet up with an old friend or schedule a study session with a classmate online. Studies show that spending time with friends helps lower your stress. There are several apps you can use to chat online
- Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day. Social media might have a negative effect on your mental health, so limit your use or consider taking a break entirely.
- Know when you need to get help and schedule some time to talk to a therapist. Call your doctor or therapist. Many are offering phone and video appointments.
If you’re feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Or call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
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