Nearly one in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illness. Just as individuals with pre-existing physical conditions are more likely to have complications from contracting coronavirus, people with mental health conditions are at greater risk of experiencing worsening mental and emotional symptoms as a result of stressful situations like the current pandemic.
Each of us faces challenging experiences that affect our mental and emotional health at some point in our lives. Mental health conditions can be isolating, but by taking time to stay connected and healthy during stressful situations, we can improve our resiliency to better face life’s challenges.
Special considerations for those with preexisting mental health conditions: Those of us who are dealing with mental health concerns might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out daily activities during the current pandemic. It is vital to seek or continue treatment and to be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Call your healthcare provider if stress prevents you from conducting daily activities.
Here are steps we can all take to boost our mental health and resiliency:
Connect with Others. Social distancing makes it even more important to ensure that we maintain connections with our loved ones.
- Have a virtual happy hour or dinner with friends and family.
- Play games or do an online puzzle with friends.
- Write a letter to someone you care about and mail it to them.
- Attend group events online. Take advantage of online concerts and other events being offered on a variety of social media platforms.
Practice Self-Care. Self-care is vital to boosting your resilience to life’s challenges.
- Meditate or do yoga. Take advantage of the variety of free online classes currently available.
- Practice gratitude. Think about what you’re grateful for and consider keeping a gratitude journal.
Entertainment. Take a few minutes to entertain yourself.
- Binge your favorite movies and television shows or watch something new.
- Stream a free concert or theatrical production. Many popular musicians are streaming mini-concerts via their social media platforms and some local, regional, and national theaters are streaming their productions online.
- Read a book or listen to podcasts. In addition to purchasing e-books, many local libraries have titles you can borrow online.
Stay Physically Active and Eat a Healthy Diet. Physical activity can help bolster your immune system and improve mental health. The food you eat also has a direct effect on your energy level and mood.
- Go for a bike ride, walk, or run while observing social distancing guidelines.
- Start a fitness challenge with a group of friends. Set goals and do regular check-ins to help each other stay motivated.
- Challenge yourself to cook something tasty and healthy using ingredients you have on hand.
Learn Something. Keeping your mind active and engaged is vital to your mental well-being.
- Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one.
- Take an online course. Many schools and other learning institutions are offering free virtual classes during this time.
Tackle Your To-Do List. Having a clean, well-organized living environment can improve your physical and mental health.
- Declutter your closets, junk drawers, cabinets, attic, or basement. Organize your personal files and photos. Give your home a deep clean.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Help
While one in five people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. If you are concerned that you or someone you care about needs support, call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for guidance. All of the benefits provided by your Component EAP can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without leaving your home. Services are confidential, free, and do not affect your security clearance. What you discuss with EAP is never reported to your supervisor.