During any evolving and large-scale event, it’s normal for people to have a wide range of reactions.
You might be feeling neutral, unconcerned, anxious, or frustrated, or you might notice fluctuating between these and a number of other valid emotions.
Whether it’s grieving the loss of study abroad opportunities or feeling angry toward precautionary measures being implemented at the local, state, and national levels, whatever you’re feeling can be considered normal.
There’s no right way to respond to the wide range of reactions you’re having, and it’s important to remind yourself that your emotions are valid. This situation is novel, evolving, and unpredictable.
Description of the video:
Hi my name is Dr. Michael Day the director of counseling here at IU Southeast. I have five tips for you today to maintain your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Taking care of our physical health is something we all know we need to do, especially nowadays, but keep taking care of our mental health is also very important and there's some strategies that can help us. In the same way, as we go through social distancing changes in our routine some of the lack of control that comes along with that that can all contribute to difficulties in our mental health. Sadness, anxiety sleep difficulties, anger, fear, frustration, and even boredom. They're all very normal reactions to these things that we're going through, but they're also things that can be managed with a few tips. So here are my five tips for helping you during this time.
First, try to separate what you can control from what you can't control. As human beings, control is important to us and this is a time where we don't feel that. So what can you control? You can wash your hands. You can in social distance. You can help those that are in your immediate area. And those are very very important things to do. It helps to decrease the spread of the virus and even though it's difficult you're making a difference by doing that. You can also get good accurate information from the CDC, from other trusted websites. You can also do something like start a new project, or fix something, or learn something new with your time, or start or revisit a hobby. The things you can't control is what's going on on the national level the world level and those type of things. We need to let those who are dealing with that deal with that. You can focus on how much of that information you're getting. So maybe refrain from focusing on it too much, from catastrophizing, from spreading gossip, and things like that. Sometimes that feels helpful but it usually contributes to our anxiety.
Tip number two, do what helps you feel safe. Different people have different ways of feeling safe. For me, I like to make lists and get things done. It makes some of my friends kind of frustrated because I'm always writing things down, but it seems to help me manage my anxiety. Spend time with your pets, watch a funny movie, cook something special, talk with your friends, practice faith, if that's important to you, draw something, focus on the positive, and all those that are the helpers, as Mr. Rogers said take a walk out in nature. Those are things that you can do to help you or anything that helps you to feel safe.
Tip number three is try to stay in the present. What I mean by that is, oftentimes we can worry about the future trying to predict what's going to happen. At the present time none of us can but that can lead to anxiety and make us worry even more. Us regretting the past or thinking about what I should have could have would have done can also times oftentimes contribute to depression and make us even sadder. So if you find yourself stuck in the past, or in the future, try to bring yourself back to the present by focusing on what you can see, what you can hear, what you can smell, what you can taste, and what you can do now.
For tip number four I would say stay connected. We are all social creatures and we need one another so even without physical presence we can deeply impact one another and deeply be impacted by sharing our thoughts and our feelings about what's going on. We can do that through social media, through phone calls, through all the various platforms that we have through our technology. Be creative. Maybe have some social distancing parties or have some conversations or play some distance games that can kind of spend some of that time with friends and family.
And the last thing I would suggest is, maintain a regular schedule for yourself. Humans need schedules and routines our work, our school, oftentimes provide that for us and when we don't have that we kind of get out of sorts. So you might want to try to think about how can you impose some routine on yourself whether that's by making a daily schedule. Thinking of things you can do so the time doesn't get away from you. Make sure you pay attention to your sleep and when you get up when you go to sleep, meals and tasks that you can do for the day. Maybe even set some goals for yourself for each day. It can also be time to catch up on a neglected closet that you need to clean out, or a project, or something like that.
Finally, though not an exact tip, I'd say pay attention to your check engine light. Just like our cars have that little annoying light that goes on and sometimes we ignore it until it's too late. If you find yourself getting particularly extra angry extra grumpy, extra grouchy, or particularly extra depressed, or isolating yourself even more. Make sure that you reach out and let someone know. You can call us here at the Counseling Center. You can also use a lot of resources that are available to you online. So I'd encourage you to think about these things and I hope some of them are helpful. You can check out IU Southeast. Our main webpage has some ideas as well as our Counseling Center has some ideas. As well as active minds, and a variety of other online resources. Remember that your faculty, your staff, your friends, your colleagues, we all care about you and we're all in this together. So somehow, find some ways to practice some of these tips and to reach out and find creative new ways to take care of your mental health.
Thanks and we hope to see you soon.
While we understand the resources below are not a substitute for in-person counseling support, please consider exploring these suggestions. We hope these are helpful as our campus community works to provide services and processes as best and as soon as possible.
Stay connected. During this period, it’s important to maintain social distance, and it’s crucial to stay in touch with your social support by way of a phone call, video chat, or text.
Reduce media exposure if overwhelmed. Limit the time you spend taking in COVID-19 news. We’re inundated with information regarding it and are often receiving information through multiple channels. This can be overwhelming. If you need to, limit the frequency and duration of reading the news, social media, or other mediums.
Be careful of COVID-19 misinformation. Rumors are stirring about what’s open, what’s not, what’s closing, and more. Prevent yourself from being caught up in potential rumors by getting information from reputable sources. Check out state and local government sites – including your school – for up-to-date information regarding closings. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the best places to check for correct information about the virus.
Maintain your typical schedule as best as you can. Meals, classes, study time, relaxation time, etc. Having a schedule helps us contain emotions and feel a sense of control during a time of uncertainty.
Maintain perspective. While this is a significant event for all of us, remind yourself of what’s good in your life and what’s important to you: health, friends, being able to continue towards your degree, religion, or spirituality.
Engage in self-care. Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day. Work towards maintaining good nutrition and regular meals, which includes limiting alcohol and caffeine intake and getting some exercise. When the weather is nice, go for a walk or spend time outside. Practice deep breathing, relaxation, yoga, or Qigong. Not sure how to do these? Check out these 25 mental health apps or search for free programs on YouTube. Try taking up an activity that requires use of your body and mind, which can give you an emotional break: knitting, art, playing an instrument, etc.