From how we socialize with friends, to how we perform our jobs and manage finances, COVID-19 has changed our daily lives in many ways. Many families, now cooped up together under one roof, may experience challenges with juggling childcare and work from home. Meanwhile, those living alone may be struggling with the isolation and lack of in-person human interaction. From social distancing to stay-at-home orders, adjusting to this new normal may feel overwhelming.
Isolation and the stress of coping with a pandemic can take a toll on your psychological health. Learn some tips to help you cope and maintain your psychological health during this time.
12 Tips to Keep You Mentally Fit
By practicing social distancing, you can help save lives in your community and lessen the burden on health care facilities. However, being physically separated from others may make you feel like you’re all alone. For some, this alone time is also accompanied by feelings of anxiety, loss of appetite, decreased energy levels and other signs of stress. [PDF 560KB] It’s important to remember that social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.
Below are some tips to help you maintain psychological health and wellness while staying home during a pandemic.
- Learn the facts. Make sure your information on the coronavirus comes from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the Military Health System.
- Limit media exposure. Try limiting how often you check the news each day, as it may increase anxious feelings. Also, make sure you’re paying attention to reliable sources (like those listed in the first tip or under the Additional Resources section).
- Maintain your routine. Continue to wake up and go to bed at your regular time. If you’re working from home, changing into “work clothes” can help you stay focused and motivated.
- Set schedules and boundaries. If you’re at home with family or roommates, designate individual spaces for completing daily work or schooling. Also, setting aside alone time and sharing schedules with others in the house can help prevent disruptions and conflict.
- Manage anger. Living in close quarters with others may create tension and disagreements. Check out these tips to help you manage anger [PDF 1.2MB] and communicate more effectively.
- Connect virtually. At least once a day, try connecting with a friend, coworker, or family member. Text, call, video chat or use social media to stay in touch while separated physically. Having strong social ties can help combat loneliness and supports your psychological health.
- Eat smart. Focus on trying to eat healthy and limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. Good nutrition can boost your mood and help manage stress. Check out Choose MyPlate’s tips for food planning during COVID-19. [PDF 137KB]
- Focus on self-care. Incorporating a wellness practice into your routine may help relieve anxiety or stress. Try activities like meditation, hiking, yoga or writing in a journal.
- Stay physically active. Take a break during the day and go on a walk, being sure to maintain social distance guidelines. If you’re self-quarantining, you don’t need special equipment or a lot of space to get in a good workout at home. Check out these exercises from the World Health Organization to get you started or browse online for free home workout routines.
- Continue your spiritual practice. If you have one, stay connected to your spiritual practice, as it can provide comfort during stressful times. You may be able to attend services virtually, with many now being streamed online.
- Plan fun activities. Binge watching your favorite series could get old fast, so get creative! Some ideas include planning a virtual board game night with friends or hosting a virtual dinner party.
- Start a new hobby. Have you been wanting to sharpen your cooking skills? Maybe you want to learn to play the guitar? Use this time at home as an opportunity to pick up a new hobby, which may help reduce stress and keep your mind active.
If you continue to show signs of stress, reach out for support. Additionally, if you have a preexisting psychological health concern you should continue with your treatment and watch for new or worsening symptoms. For immediate help, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Military Health System
- Military OneSource
- WHO: Coping with Stress During the 2019-nCoV Outbreak Infographic [PDF 52KB]
- National Institutes of Health: Manage Stress and Anxiety
- PHCoE: Addressing Emotional Responses to Threat of Coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (March 2020). COVID-19: Manage Anxiety and Stress.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (September 2019). Taking Care of Your Emotional Health.
Gordon, Joshua. (March 2020). Coping with Coronavirus: Managing Stress, Fear, and Anxiety. National Institute of Mental Health.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (October 2014). Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks. [PDF 560KB]
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (December 2014). Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak.