Managing Mental Health During the Pandemic

As each day brings new updates, possibly with worrying or confusing information about COVID-19 (coronavirus), we each respond to this stress in our own ways. Everyone is different—our various thoughts, emotions and reactions are normal in the face of such widespread uncertainty.

Common Mental Health Related Reactions:

  • Anxiety, worry, or panic
  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Social withdrawal beyond practicing safe social distancing
  • Sadness and loneliness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased boredom and loss of interest in daily life activities
  • Frustration, anger, or irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to physical sensations
  • Hypervigilance to health for ourselves and others

    When local and global concerns arise to current levels, increased anxiety and other mental health struggles are common. As school, work, and family life changes, worries can even threaten to take over our lives. However, there are many practical and helpful ways that you can manage stress in these uncertain times. The good news is that adopting these self-care practices will not only help you now, but they will also continue to boost your mood and health long after this pandemic has passed.

    This F.A.C.E C.O.V.I.D. handout utilizes an acronym to provide a resource to those who may be struggling with the mental and emotional aspects of COVID-19’s effects. It includes helpful written content combined with links to meditations and beneficial practices. This resource is a great introduction to some new perspectives and practices you can use to enhance your mental response to COVID-19 and to boost your resilience. Use this guide to learn how to F.A.C.E. C.O.V.I.D.!

    Stay (selectively) Informed:

    Your best practice will be to seek information directly from the CDC or WHO websites regarding broader trends and to follow UConn specific updates on our website. This will help reduce the confusion of conflicting updates or misinformation.

    Stay Grounded:

    Remember to take a break from consuming COVID-19 information and to focus on the things that make life worth living. See if you can shift your attention to the positive things in your life that you have some control over.

     

    Stay Healthy:

    Continue to follow healthy hygienic habits such as:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Self-isolate when you are sick
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your hands
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

    Stay Connected:

    As you continue to practice social distancing or are under self-quarantine or isolation, remember to stay connected to supportive friends and family. Take advantage of technology to have video hangouts and points of connection. Utilize online social networks, but be wary of getting too absorbed in the news or widespread worry that can infiltrate those spaces.

    Stay Mindful of your Assumptions

    Someone who coughs, sneezes, or even has a fever does not necessarily have coronavirus. Catching these automatic thoughts helps us not to stigmatize or discriminate against others in our community.

    Experiment with different self-care practices such as:

    • Maintaining exercise (while staying safe)
    • Trying out mobile apps such as Headspace or Sanvello to build a stress reducing mindfulness habit
    • Taking time to stretch or practice yoga to keep anxiety induced muscle tension at bay
    • Going for a walk (when safe)
    • Starting a gratitude journal
    • Giving yourself an 8-hour “sleep opportunity” every night
    • Keep a healthy diet

    Videos for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for COVID-19 Anxiety:

    Part 1: In this video we will talk about anxiety, how the COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting anxiety, and the ways Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful.

    Part 2: This video will discuss how your thoughts influence anxiety.  From there, we will introduce skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help ease anxiety.

    Part 3: This final video in the series will focus on behavior.  We will talk about behaviors common to anxiety and then introduce behavioral skills to decrease anxiety and improve wellbeing.

    Seek Additional Support

    Individuals who are experiencing overwhelming anxiety or other mental health challenges resulting from this pandemic and its effects can seek additional professional mental health support. If you are a UConn student enrolled at the Storrs Campus, you may contact SHaW—Mental Health by phone at 860-486-4705.

     

    Life Threatening Emergency – Call 911

    If you are experiencing a serious and immediate life-threatening crisis, please bypass calling SHaW and call 911 or the UConn Police Department immediately. Although most people associate 911 with medical emergencies, they also support people with mental health emergencies, such as thoughts of suicide.

    I need to talk to someone now.