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Taking care of your mental health during a pandemic

Mind, Show on Corporate Home, COVID-19, KARLA

You're preoccupied and having difficulty focusing. Your sleep isn't great. And you aren’t eating as well as you know you should.

You may be stressed out by COVID-19.

It's not unusual to be anxious during a disease outbreak—especially a pandemic like this one. But chronic stress isn't good for your body or mind. It might be time to take some steps to ease the pressure on yourself.

Recognize the signs of stress

How do you know if your mental health is suffering during this outbreak? You may be feeling stressed if you're having:

  • Fearful thoughts about your health and the health of your family and friends
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in your eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A worsening of chronic health problems
  • A worsening of depression or other mental health conditions
  • A rise in your use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Take positive steps to feel better

Health experts offer the following tips for coping with these stressful times:

Wean yourself off constant news. This can be as easy as turning off the TV. You also may want to disable your phone's news alerts (You can always turn them back on later).

Check in with family and friends. Call them. Have a video chat. Meet with your book club over a group meeting app.

Get your facts straight. Learn more about the virus from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knowledge can ease anxiety.

Keep to healthy daily routines as much as you can. Whatever you do for self-care, keep up with those habits. They can help you feel more in control.

Move more. Exercise is a great way to improve both mental and physical health.

Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment, rather than worrying about what comes next. Breathe deeply and accept the "now" without judgment.

Put free time to good use. Listen to an audiobook. Draw or paint. Make notes in a journal. Plan your summer garden.

Celebrate small wins. Keep track of moments of gratitude and joy.

Want to spread hope?

Check out these five ways to spread hope without spreading germs.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Alliance on Mental Illness