Managing Your Mental Health in Troubling Times

It seems wherever we turn these days, stories about the coronavirus are dominating the news cycle.  Updates are ubiquitous, and the virus cacophony feels inescapable.  No wonder our collective mental well-being is at risk.  So how do we stay informed while protecting our mental health?  Consider these tips:

Limit the frequency of your news consumption and practice social media discipline.  Given the rapidly evolving nature of COVID-19, it’s tempting to check news sources frequently.  But every update isn’t urgent. Consider disabling notifications from news sites and social media and setting your own schedule so you feel informed but not overwhelmed. Also, rely on only trusted sources for your news. Experts advise that you  choose one national or international source, like the CDC, and one local source to keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community.  Then do your best to ignore the rest. 

Create and stick to a schedule. Routines are calming, and help develop a sense of control.  But try to strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.

Stay connected with people by setting up regular check-in times.  Isolation leads to loneliness, and now more than ever, we need each other.

Manage your emotions by acknowledging your anxiety - Consider practicing the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worry:

  • Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.

Pay attention to your basic needs. Make sure you're getting enough sleep and proper nutrition.  Exercise regularly and go outdoors as often as possible. 

For additional mental health resources, click here.  If you continue to struggle with negative emotions and fears, or would like to speak with YFC's New Client Coordinator, Bri Roberts, please click here.

Remember, YFC is here to help.  We can get through this together.