Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Month in the United States. In 2020, since COVID-19, the official designation is more poignant than ever worldwide because of the virus quarantines and an uncertain future.
If not mindful and proactive during this crisis, the negative news and ominous projections can cause feelings of being overwhelmed, confused, fearful, numb and detached. Those with a history of a mental health diagnosis can present worsening or recurrence of symptoms.
Tips for keeping it together while shut in at home have been compiled by Dr. Mayra Abelleira. She serves as medical director and attending psychiatrist for the inpatient hospitalization and outpatient programs at Palm Point Behavioral Health in Titusville.
The collective anxiety and depression during a disaster such as the current global virus outbreak, she says, is causing a sense of risk to our well-being and the well-being of our loved ones. The goal is to learn how to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, threats or significant sources of stress, which might include family, health or financial stressors.
- Maintain communication with loved ones. "Even if we are physically distant, we should ensure that we are not emotionally isolated."
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing. It reverses the stress produced by the fight and flight mechanism.
- Get enough rest and sleep, eat regularly and stay hydrated.
- Choose activities that help you relax such as walking, singing, exercising, praying and playing with your children. Get outside and notice nature at least once a day.
- Find safe ways to help others during the crisis.
- Organize your home, get rid of clutter and create open spaces, modify windows or curtains to allow as much natural light as possible and consider artificial or natural plants. The color green provides a sense of peace and calmness.
- Establish a routine. Avoid sleeping all day, working all the time without rest, isolating yourself emotionally from friends and family, neglecting personal hygiene, using drugs, smoking or drinking alcohol, or being violent.
For information, go to palmpointbehavioral.com