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Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19


The outbreak of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) can be emotionally very stressful. So, here are a few things to keep in mind.

You're human: It's natural to feel additional stress during this time. You wouldn't be human if you didn't. So knowing this, don't be too hard on yourself just because you're feeling stress about the situation.

News exposure: Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. It's ok to stay informed, but extensive exposure to the news can do more harm than good. One suggestion is to schedule a daily time for consuming news about the issue, e.g. every morning at 8AM for 15 minutes. Then go about your typical day.

Awareness: Like any type of stress it can help to bring awareness to it without judgment. Just inspect. Bring awareness to what you're thinking, how you're feeling emotionally and also to how you're feeling in your body. Write about it in your journal and/or say it aloud. Acknowledging the stress can often make it feel less significant.

Talk about it: Taking awareness a step further can be to talk to someone about it. This could be family, a friend or a professional. Hearing yourself talking about these feelings can make it feel less intense.

Irrational thinking: Stressful situations can increase your irrational thinking. For example, you may start thinking about things in terms of black or white, or always or never. You may start jumping to unfounded conclusions or believing you can predict the future. It can be helpful to recognize when your thoughts have turned irrational and then disputing them. (Our CBT Thought Record tool can be helpful for this.)

Gratitude: When a crisis is happening it can be easy to be consumed by the negative events and lose sight of everything else. However, there are still good things happening in the world and in your life. Practicing gratitude can help remind you of this.

What you can control: There are some things you can control and some things you can't. Focusing on the things you can control results in less stress. For example, you can make sure you follow your local healthcare recommendations about hand washing and social distancing.

Opportunity for change: This crisis may result in changes in your daily activities. For example, you may spend more time at home than usual. Try to frame it as an opportunity to try different things like learning to cook a new dish, reading that book that has been sitting next to your bed, or starting that new hobby you've been considering.

We know this is a stressful situation. We encourage you to be compassionate with yourself and with others, and to be diligent about doing the basics each day to take care of yourself emotionally in addition to physically. Taking steps to actively reduce your stress is good for you and everyone else.

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