Managing mental health during the coronavirus outbreak: 7 tips from a behavioral health consultant

Hayley Quinn, a behavioral health consultant with Swedish Medical Group, shared these seven mental health tips to practice during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Keep your routines as best you can. This includes wake-up times, meals and snacks, work or study periods, exercise, and relaxation. Create a daily schedule for yourself.
  • Invest in a health outlet. This is the time you’ve been waiting for to get back to sewing, an instrument, or your art! There are lots of tutorials online to learn a new skill. Try to aim for at least 15 minutes per day, and build up to longer time periods.
  • Limit your media consumption and focus on accurate, evidence-based sources. Your local health department and the CDC are good sources of good information. 15-30 minutes per day should be enough time to keep you engaged and informed without increasing your anxiety.
  • Incorporate self-care and mindfulness practices into your day. Many of the relaxation apps that are available have a free option. Headspace, CALM, and Buddhify are good examples. There are yoga videos available on YouTube. Add this to your nighttime routine, or try 5 minutes after each meal.
  • Reach out and help. Research shows that helping and volunteering can boost mood and reduce anxiety. Start with your neighborhood and then look around in your local community. Examples include: walking someone’s dog, offering virtual homework support, or doing a grocery run.
  • Talk about it, but avoid “future tripping.” It is healthy to discuss with friends and family how you are feeling and coping. When the conversation turns towards the future “what ifs” that are unknown, keep those discussions to a minimum. Try to touch base with a friend or loved one once per day.
  • Communicate with your kids. Most children will have already heard about the virus, so parents shouldn’t avoid talking about it. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more. Look at the conversation as an opportunity to convey the facts and set the emotional tone. Your goal is to help your children feel informed and get fact-based information that is likely more reassuring than hearing things from other sources.

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