Mental Health and COVID-19

March 16, 2020

 

It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed when reading news about the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma, anxiety, or other mental health issues. While it’s good to have a healthy dose of concern, don’t let your mind get carried away with all of the “what ifs.” Here are a few tips compiled by NCC counselors, local therapists, and reputable public health organizations to help you maintain your mental health.

Practice mindfulness

We’ve been told by health officials that frequent hand washing helps us protect ourselves and others. Use it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness! Try this hand washing meditation created by Suzie Wolfer, LCSW, SEP at Oregon Somatic Therapy:

Notice you’re hands: how they feel, what they are touching, how amazing they are. Notice the impulse to touch your face and decide. Wash your hands with scented soap. Enjoy the warm water and suds. Imaging the towel drying, a kindness to your hard working, amazing hands. Feel your body settle as you stay in the delicious, precious moment. Feel the safety in NOW.

Photo by Vladimir Proskurovskiy on Unsplash

Change your mindset

With so much widespread fear and panic, circumstances may feel out of control. Focus on aspects of your life you can control: stay engaged in hobbies that don’t put you at risk, or start a new hobby; keep your home and office organized; stay connected with friends and family, even if remotely.

Limit your exposure to the media

This outbreak is generating a lot of coverage by the media – many fear-based, and some that just aren’t true. Keep yourself informed and educated, but if the endless media cycle of fear and panic is bothering you, shut it off for a while.

Educate and spend time with your kids

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Involved your kids in conversations about the outbreak in language they can understand. They are likely hearing stories and conversations at school and on the news: help them sort out fact from fiction, and be as truthful as possible. Use this break from other obligations to spend more time with your kids: play board games, listen to music, have movie night. Stick to your regular routine, and when that’s not possible, create a new routine.

Call your doctor

“I have a cough! My nose is running! I think I have Coronavirus!” Follow guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Don’t WebMD yourself. Call your doctor’s office and ask for advice from a professional.

The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center is taking the following steps to ensure our staff and clients are safe:

 – We are regularly sanitizing our office spaces, including the lobby, therapist couches, doorknobs, and keys.
 – Staff are regularly washing their hands, and hand sanitizer is available throughout the office. Clients are encouraged to utilize the hand sanitizer and regularly wash their hands while in our office.
 – Phone sessions will be offered for any client who is over 60, immune compromised, has been exposed to coronavirus, or have ANY cold/flu/coughing symptoms. If you are sick, please call your therapist to request a phone session or to cancel.

 

Sources:
Therapists at The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center: Lauren Shechter, LCSW, Michelle Sideroff, LPC, and Marchelle Carl, Graduate Intern
Suzie Wolfer, LCSW, SEP at Oregon Somatic Therapy – https://www.facebook.com/Oregon-Somatic-Therapy-1942345389191448/
Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak