Coping emotionally during COVID-19

April 16th, 2020

We are surely living through stressful and uncertain times. It is normal to experience fear and worry about our own health as well as that of our loved ones. Emotional responses to these uncertain times, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, helplessness and anger, are normal and can be mentally and emotionally overwhelming. Exercising healthy behaviors can help you remain positive and encouraged during this time.

Using the strategies like those listed below can help you to cope with the current challenges you are facing.

  • Create a routine. Structure can be an important part of having a positive and productive day. It may be a different routine then what you are used to, but it will be your new routine for now. Be sure to add self-care into your new routine, including regular bedtimes, exercise, meal prep and stress relief, just to name a few.
  • Exercise daily. You may not be able to visit your gym, but make it a point to find exercise you can safely do at home on a regular basis. Exercise ideas can include brisk walks, jogging, jump roping, biking, yoga, or resistance training. Search the internet to find any type of exercise that may interest you. Exercise is vital not only for physical health, but mental health as well. It can aid in stress relief, support better sleep and contribute to a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night by creating a habit of going to bed at a regular time and waking up at a regular time. Turn off the television and other electronic devices well before bedtime.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Fuel your body with healthy foods and drink plenty of water. Be careful of eating foods for comfort too often. Keep a regular meal routine and plan snacks out accordingly. Physical stress can contribute to suppressing our immune system. A nutritious diet can help to boost our immune system as well as our mood.
  • Take time to unwind. Put aside time daily to de-stress by turning off the television, phone, or anything that can be distracting and focus on yourself.
  • Connect with others. Although we must social distance, do not isolate yourself. Connect with family and friends through phone calls, emails, text messages or virtual platforms. Don’t be afraid to tell those closest to you how you are feeling; chances are they feel the same way.
  • Go outside. Go outside daily to help boost your mood and, if the sun is out, your vitamin D levels as well.
  • Be productive. Decide what you will do with the gift of time you have now been given. You can choose to be productive with your time. Create a master list of projects you have been wanting to accomplish. Create a daily to-do list that includes daily routine chores as well as items from your master list. Finishing tasks on your to-do list can create a feeling of accomplishment and productivity.
  • Stay positive. Create positive thinking by writing down daily one thing you are thankful for. It may become a list you continue with long after the crisis is over as a wonderful way to remind yourself each day of all you are blessed with. Give yourself permission to laugh and be happy. We can choose to make each day better than the last.
  • Focus on what you CAN control. We may not be able to control much of what is going on in the world currently, however we CAN control how we personally choose to respond. It is important to stay focused on what you can control and what you can do right now for yourself and others.

It is essential to take good mental and physical care of yourself during this unprecedented situation. Self-care, both physical and mental, is vital to how we personally respond and handle this crisis for ourselves and our family.

Article courtesy of Kimberly A. Tessmer, RDN, LD Dietitian and GemCare Wellness HealthTrac Health Coach