The Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in ways we never imagined. While families who have lost loved ones are most deeply affected, those in healthy households are also experiencing profound changes. Parents are working from home while simultaneously entertaining and educating their kids. Many are reluctant to visit elderly parents and grandparents, fearful of spreading a disease they may be unknowingly carrying. Those living by themselves may be feeling lonely and isolated from the people and activities that filled their lives, and all of this is taking a toll on our mental health.
In honor of National Mental Health Month, here are some tips from local psychologists to help you stay balanced during these uncertain times.
Mental health professionals are noticing increased symptoms of anxiety among their patients. Local psychotherapist Judy Lipson believes there is a mind-body connection that requires a holistic approach.
“Worry is in the mind, stress is in the body, and anxiety is when they’re both present,” she says, adding that exercise is a good way to release nervous energy and reduce anxiety.
In addition, lack of structure can promote anxiety. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a daily schedule that works for you and other members of the household.
Before the pandemic, many of us led non-stop lives, rushing from one place to another with little time to spare. Now, like it or not, life is less hectic than it used to be. With fewer scheduled activities, it can be a good time to appreciate moving at a slower pace.
Use the unexpected free time to do things that didn’t fit into your busy schedule. Bake from scratch, read a long book, work in the garden or join an online exercise class. If you’re feeling ambitious, organize your digital photos, clean out the garage or declutter the basement.
We love our family, but spending 24 hours a day under the same roof with children and spouses can be challenging. Psychotherapist Dr. Toni Kaplan suggests establishing boundaries within your household. If your kids are older, make your home office or work space off-limits during certain hours.
Furthermore, it’s helpful to carve out “alone time” to exercise, meditate or simply take a quiet break without being interrupted.
Those who live alone can avoid feeling isolated by using Skype or other video chat apps to keep in touch with family and friends. Walking outdoors and greeting neighbors (from a safe distance) is also beneficial for your mental health.
And, if you’re depressed or feeling sorry for yourself, there’s no better antidote than helping someone else. Call an elderly relative or neighbor to see how they are. Clean out a closet and fill a bag to donate to a local charity. If your budget permits, contribute to a fund that helps people who are struggling financially.
“These are challenging times for all of us, but we want you to know our entire staff is working remotely to serve our clients without interruption,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If you or a loved one is injured, we will help you win the compensation you and your family deserve.”
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