Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been stressful for many people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause a host of emotional responses. This page suggests ways to care for your mental health during these experiences and provides resources for more help. It also describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after physical distancing and/or self-isolation.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations such as an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing and/or self-isolation.
People may feel:
- Anxiety, worry, or fear related to your own health status
- Concern about effectively managing your life demands while choosing to isolate for your own safety and safety of others
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and loneliness associated with feeling cut off from the world and from friends and family
- Stigmatized or singled-out
- Anger and frustration about having your movements in the world confined to one space.
- Boredom and frustration because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities
- Uncertainty or ambivalence about the situation
- A desire to use unhealthful coping behaviors that interfere with normal sleeping, eating, and self-care behaviors such as excessive late nights, over-eating, and excessive use of substances.
- Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as intrusive distressing memories, flashbacks (reliving the event), nightmares, changes in thoughts and mood, and being easily startled
- It can be normal to feel singled-out and worried about how others may view and interact with you
- Talk to others about your experience and how you are feeling
- Re-engage in your daily routine: go to class, exercise, study, reconnect with others, etc…
- Seek help if you feel distressed, anxious, depressed, and/or are having difficulty sleeping
- Connect with others: Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing and isolation. You can use the telephone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others
- Talk “face-to-face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of the coronavirus
- Maintain a routine and take care of your body:
- Stick to a scheduled sleep routine
- Eat healthy and avoid excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, or other substances
- Infuse some variety into daily activities
- Do homework… stay connected with professors by email and keep up with classwork
- Time spent in meditation or just taking deep breaths and stretching
- Journal about your experience during this time
- Monitor time spent on social media
- Engage in or develop a hobby… try something new you have not tried before to challenge yourself
- Identify things you are hopeful for and grateful for in life.
- Though time may seem to move slowly during this period, it does move and this will come to an end. Keep a calendar and mark off days to show/remind yourself that time does pass
- Expect that this may be challenging at times and it is normal to feel a variety of emotions. Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with others. FOMO is a normal thing to feel… use social media sparingly if you start feeling this way and turn your attention to things you enjoy and have conversations with others.
- Stay connected daily
- Ask about how someone is doing and normalize feelings of anger, frustration, worry
- Don’t try to fix these feelings while also reminding them that you care about them and that this will pass
- Remind them to engage in healthy routines such as regular sleep patterns, eating healthy, and adding variety to their daily activities
- Stay positive
- Use Kognito At-Risk Training to learn more about how to support others in distress tamu.edu/register-for-a-free-kognito-account/
Resources for Coping:
- HelpLine is available M-F, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 a.m. and 24 hours on the weekends. Call to talk about anything!
- Aggie Mental Health & Wellness Resource Calendar - May 2020
- Aggie Mental Health & Wellness Resource Calendar - April 2020
- Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line - 24/7, toll-free at 833-986-1919
- SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline - 24/7, 1-800-846-8517, Text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 - guidance from the CDC
- Free Guided Meditations (English/Spanish) - from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Resource Center
- 7 Science-Based Strategies to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety - from The Conversation website
- Managing Coronavirus Anxiety: 10 Practical Suggestions - from clinical psychologist Nick Wigwall, Ph.D.
- In the Therapy Zoom: 5 Lessons Coronavirus Can Teach Us All - from counseling psychologist Miranda Nadeau, Ph.D.
- How to Keep Relationships Strong While Social Distancing - from NICABM
- Living With Worry And Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty - a free guide from Psychology Tools
- Five Ways to View Coverage of the Coronavirus - from the American Psychological Association
- Additional Resources from the American Psychological Association
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty - tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Tips for Managing Stress and Worries - from the Jed Foundation
- Love is Louder - a project of the Jed Foundation for coping and staying connected
- Seize the Awkward - from the Jed Foundation
- What to do if Coronavirus Health Guidelines Trigger OCD/Anxiety
- The Difference Between Worry, Stress, and Anxiety - from The New York Times
- The Science of Well-Being - a free Coursera online course
- Building Your Resilience - from American Psychological Association
- How to Meditate for College Students Stuck at Home - from the Manhattan Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Promoting Mental Health in Response to COVID-19
This video is designed to normalize and validate TAMU students’ emotional experiences in regards to COVID-19. In addition to providing students with support, this video discusses healthy ways to take care of your mental health, while practicing physical distancing, and resources to cope. We also provide information regarding overall wellness and ways to actively engage in self-care.