Prioritize your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
UOPX counseling program chair provides tips for staying connected and thriving during social distancing.
Social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic have upended our lives. We’re embracing a new kind of normal—learning how to work from home, teach our children, shop in new ways and prioritize needs over wants.
As we focus on our responsibilities, it’s important to remember to support our mental health, according to Dr. Dean Aslinia, program chair for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at University of Phoenix, and president of the Arizona Counseling Association.
“Having a sense of a wellness plan is first and foremost,” Dr. Aslinia said. “So many are just so zoomed into work, they’re forgetting they need to be whole.”
Dr. Aslinia advises that each person’s plan should address ways to release stress, lower anxiety, get support and comfort when you need it, as well as preventative measures you can take to help boost your overall ability to cope during these trying times.
Having a sense of a wellness plan is first and foremost. So many are just so zoomed into work, they’re forgetting they need to be whole,
— Dr. Dean Aslinia
Here are some ideas Dr. Aslinia suggests to include in your personal mental health wellness plan to keep you connected and thriving during the coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing:
- Mindfulness/Meditation/Breathing Techniques: If you’ve been wanting to try meditation or if you have practiced mindfulness in the past, now is the time to explore the many apps and resources available online to help reduce stress.
- Exercise: Get your endorphins flowing with regular exercise. These hormones naturally make your mind and body more resilient in times of stress.
- Take a news break: When you’re feeling your anxiety levels increase, it’s time to put down your device and give your mind a break from the constant stream of coronavirus news.
- Slow down: Allow yourself time to adjust to this new situation. You don’t have to be operating at peak productivity during a global pandemic. It’s okay to focus on being healthy right now.
- Double-down on healthy habits: From eating a healthy diet to getting a good night’s sleep, general wellness makes it easier for your mind to manage the stress during a crisis.
- Keep your mind occupied: Learn something new. Take an online course, learn a new hobby, try that language app. When your mind is challenged and learning, it helps boost your morale and get your mind off of what’s happening in the world.
- Connect on social media: When the isolation of the new social distancing rules start to get you down, reach out over your social networks for authentic, quality connection with your support network. Social media has the power to do more than just share cute cat videos, though those can certainly brighten your day.
- Get professional help: Look into the services offered through your company’s employee assistance program, if you have one, to see if there are out-of-office options for therapy or counseling. During this crisis, mental health professionals are taking calls and doing video chats with clients.
- Check your medications: Make sure that you have enough of any prescription medications you take to manage your mental health. And if your symptoms are severe, talk to your physician and/or mental health provider to see if they recommend any new prescriptions or changes to your current dosage.
As the weeks of social distancing continue, make sure you’re prioritizing your mental health. These are difficult times, but with some preparation and planning, you can make sure that you can continue to support your mental health and thrive.
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