Guest Blog Post by WAVE Board Member Nydia Ntouda, MA
Covid-19 has impacted our world in ways none of us have seen in our lifetimes. Many of us are juggling the responsibilities of parenting, work, and personal life all from our homes (And that is those of us fortunate enough to do so). Essential workers like our grocery store personnel, truck drivers, postal carriers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals remain on the front line, putting themselves at risk, to work while the rest of us stay home. According to the Labor Department, 20.5 million jobs were lost in April and the U.S. is experiencing the worst unemployment since the great depression.
Even with discussion of re-opening parts of the country, it seems social distancing, or keeping a safe physical distance from others, will be part of the norm for the foreseeable future. While these are necessary measures to reduce the rate of infection, it plays an emotional toll on all of us. People whose mental health was compromised even before COVID are at a greater risk of experiencing worsening mental illness as a result of the coronavirus.
Here are 7 ways to take care of your mental health during these times.
1. Know that your feelings are valid. People handle challenging situations differently. There are an array of feelings you may be experiencing throughout the pandemic and even throughout a day. It’s OK to not feel ok. Its ok to feel anxious or sad. Its ok to feel relieved about the extra time at home. Allow yourself space to feel. Seek the help of a trusted loved one or clinician if you start to have difficulty with daily activities for several days in a row.
2. Meditate. There are many types of meditation, but the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that "they involve finding a quiet, comfortable place where you can observe your thoughts and focus on your breath. Meditation can help you feel calmer and more relaxed." Also, take time to express gratitude. Expressing gratitude not only helps us appreciate our own lives but helps us be more sensitive to those that are less fortunate.
3. Limit news consumption. Stay informed of current events through credible sources like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Inaccurate information can spread rampant on social media which only fuels anxiety. Limit your exposure to media.
4. Maintain good Nutrition/ Exercise/ Sleep. I know, I know it sounds cliché. But we are fighting against a virus. One of the best ways to do so is to build up your body's immune system. If you struggle with nutrition, set small goals like increasing your water intake by one cup a day. Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you consume daily. Stand frequently. Play games with the kiddos that keep your body moving. Take a walk and try to get enough sleep. Our bodies don’t separate our physical and mental bodies like we tend to think. Taking care of our physical selves impacts our mental health.
5. Meaningful use of your time. If you are feeling up to it, take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, organize that closet or garage like you been meaning to do.
6. Connections, Connections, Connections. Our relationships with others are SO important to our mental health. Be intentional about maintaining your relationships with the supports in your life. Call just to check in. Schedule virtual dinner dates. Not just for your own mental health, but also to check in with others. We need each other.
This may also be a good time to develop new supports and community. Join a mental health community or community of local parents. Connect to a spiritual or religious community. Connecting with a spiritual or religious community can be helpful to find strength and consolation in times of distress.
7. Reach Out. Get in contact with a trusted source like, 211 Help line in the Big Bend Florida area. The Helpline 2-1-1 is a hotline providing free access to information, referrals, and confidential telephone counseling services
Small actions go a long way in helping us cope with these unprecedented times.
Stay Healthy. Be Well.
Nydia Ntouda, MA
Prevent Child Abuse Florida