If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.
You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.
How to Care for Yourself While Practicing Physical Distancing
This is a stressful time for many. With the government and media sharing updates throughout the day and the fear of the unknown, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. You are not alone.
Millions of people across the country are facing the same worries and challenges that you are. During this time, it is important to remember that it’s OK to not be OK. It’s also important to take care of your mental health.
While practicing physical distancing, there are easy self-care strategies that can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, or prevent anxiety before it even starts.
Use these tips from the MHFA curriculum to take care of your mental health while practicing physical distancing.
- Eat healthfully to keep your body in top working order.
- Exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, whether we’re working out at home or taking a solo jog around the neighborhood.
- Practice relaxation therapy. Focusing on tensing and relaxing muscle groups can help you relax voluntarily when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
- Let light in. For some people, increased exposure to light can improve symptoms of depression. If you can, open the shades and let more sunlight in.
- Be kind to yourself! Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a friend.
- Stay connected. Even if you can’t get together face-to-face, you can stay connected to friends, family and neighbors with phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media. If you’re feeling lonely, sad or anxious, reach out to your social support networks. Share what you are feeling and offer to listen to friends or family members about their feelings. We are all experiencing this scary and uncertain time together.
- Monitor media consumption. While you might want to stay up-to the minute with COVID-19 news, too much exposure can be overwhelming. Balance media consumption with other activities you enjoy, such as reading, cooking or listening to music.
Self-care doesn’t require you to go outside or spend a lot of money. Adding small changes to your routine can make a big difference to your overall mood and well-being.
15 DAYS OF SELF-CARE FOR EVERYONE
Day 1: Disconnect from the noise- Take a break from the news or reading articles that evoke fear or panic. This may look like having the entire family put their phones away for 30 minutes and enjoy each other.
Day 2: Put on your favorite playlist- Listening to music can be soothing and uplifting, so put on your favorite songs and enjoy the moment.
Day 3: Journal- Writing down your thoughts has been found to be soothing and a form of stress release. Invite the whole family to journal about what they are feeling, thinking, or looking forward to in the future.
Day 4: Learn something new- Being home doesn't mean it has to be boring. Bring out that 5000 piece puzzle and challenge your family to learn to do something new together. Maybe you've been wanting to learn a new language or want to try cooking a new recipe. Whatever that something is for you, just do it! *Kids and teens ask for permission before cooking or baking.
Day 5: Clean and organize- These are probably most people's least favorite activities but during this gift of time take 30 minutes to organize the junk drawer, go through the mail, find the missing socks, or have your kids tidy up their room. Set a timer for 15 minutes and see who can complete the most tasks. Or have each child create their home work space. Working from home in a tidy environment helps students and adults focus on the lessons at-hand.
Day 6: Breathe, just breathe- Deep breathing has been found to increase relaxation in the body. Try the 4-square breathing technique where you breathe in for 4 counts, hold the breathe for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts again. Repeat 3 times!
Day 7: Exercise at home- Exercise can be anything that moves our bodies away from a sitting or a lying position. Have a 60 second dance party with your kids or alone. Or download apps that encourage increasing physical activity over an extended amount of time.
Day 8: Read- Whether you love the feel and smell of a physical book or you prefer e-books, take some time to read. Literacy is incredibly critical to the academic success of your children. If appropriate, read out loud and create a family environment where you share literature that interests each of you. Make a rule that nobody is allowed to belittle or make fun of another person's reading choice.
Day 9: Practice a hobby- Think about things you currently enjoy or maybe it's a pastime hobby you haven't been able to get to because of a lack of time. Teach your kids about what hobbies are and share your hobby with them. Who knows, they may actually really enjoy it and keep the legacy going!
Day 10: Watch a feel good T.V. show or movie- During times of uncertainty it can be refreshing to laugh as a family. Pick out a movie or show that will bring out positive feelings from all of you.
Day 11: Cook or Bake- Maybe in the hustle and bustle of life we have become accustomed to fast food and to-go eating options. Pick one day to cook or bake as a family. Practicing measurement is a great way to implement math skills. If math isn't your strength then just talk to your kids about your process for cooking. I grew up with a grandmother who did a little of this and a little of that so measurements were never clear!
Day 12: Practice gratitude- In a world of uncertainty, let's focus on the good things that are happening in your life. Practice gratitude through journaling or part of conversation at dinner time. You can even ask your children and reflect on your own gratitude as an activity before going to bed.
Day 13: Go for a walk- Take the dog, take the kids, or go alone. A little fresh air can help clear your mind and reduce stressful feelings.
Day 14: Host a virtucal gathering- Maybe you used to meet up with friends once a month or never had the time to connect with friends, so seize the moment and schedule some time to do this through the many video chatting platforms that exist. Encourage your children to stay connected virtually with their friends as well. Scheduling a specific friend chat time may even free you up to enjoy your adult chat time too!
Day 15: Try a new podcast or learn about podcasts- Maybe you are already a podcast follower or you are thinking what's a podcast? Either way take some time as a family to evaluate this great resource. There are podcasts available in every topic you can imagine!
Everybody's family has limitations so adjust this list to accommodate the needs of YOUR family.
ResourcesFor more information and resources during this difficult time, please see these resources: