How to maintain your mental health while social distancing
If you are like me, you are seeing all kinds of information online about how to get through this unprecedented time. Celebrities have some great ideas! However, I’d like to offer some tips on how to maintain your mental health from the perspective of a licensed mental health provider. This is intended to expand on ways we can maintain our mental health in “normal” times, with an emphasis on some of the specific challenges we face with social distancing measures in place and universal changes to our lifestyles.
If you were previously utilizing mental health treatment, continue your treatment plan through telehealth. Most providers have this option and insurance companies are making allowances to cover sessions. It’s as simple as pulling up a link on your phone, computer or tablet. Some positives: Convenient access, doing therapy with your pet or being outside, having social contact, continuing to work on treatment goals, and getting support and assistance with dealing with the current crisis. While it can be uncomfortable to be on video at first, I encourage you to try it. It may work better than you think & it's certainly better than not having it at all!
Seek professional help. When your mental stress goes beyond what you can handle on your own or if you are contemplating suicide, it’s important to talk to someone who has the training and experience to assist you. Just like with any health issue, we need guidance from an expert when we experience a signficant problem. Talking with friends and family may be incredibly helpful (please keep doing that!); but they may not know how to help with a mental health issue. The Colorado Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 1-844-493-8255 & walk in crisis centers throughout Colorado are open: www.coloradocrisisservices.org. For more information about how to start with treatment: https://www.mhanational.org/get-professional-help-if-you-need-it
See my previous blog about starting therapy for the first time https://www.amandajchaneytherapy.com/single-post/2016/08/22/So-you-are-thinking-about-therapy.
www.psychologytoday.com is a good resource for researching therapist profiles all over the U.S.
Continue taking prescribed medications and make sure you have refills available well before you need them. Most medication providers are offering telehealth appointments. Contact your Primary Care Physician or a psychiatric professional if you’d like to consider starting a medication to help alleviate symptoms. This can be useful if your symptoms make it difficult to get through the day or if it’s too hard to do things you know would help you feel better.
Remember the coping skills and wellness plan that have worked for you before. If this is a new concept for you, consider what things you can do on a daily basis that will help you feel good. Some examples are: setting an alarm, exercising at a regular time, taking a walk outside, practicing gratitude, limiting social media or news, engaging in an enjoyable activity such as coloring, dancing or playing a game & starting a small project that you can complete that day.
Get good sleep & set an alarm
Limit substance use, such as alcohol or drugs. Also focus on limiting caffeine, sugar and fast foods & adding healthy alternatives.
Stay connected socially. Make plans for social contact online. For example, schedule a video chat with loved ones at a particular time each week or join an online class. Don’t wait for others to contact you first. Reach out by phone or video chat at least once a day.
Create a new routine for your daily life, including a distinction between weekdays and weekends
Remember that everything changes. Every moment will pass. If need be, we can make it through tough moments by focusing on just this minute or just this hour. Give yourself permission to work on a problem later when you feel better.
Feel free to reach out to me if I can help get you started in the right direction! I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to help others. Thank you for reading. For more tips, please see my Facebook Group: All About Mental Health and Wellness where we share information and local resources to support mental wellbeing.