In 2015, it was estimated that up to 1 in 5 adults in the United States dealt with mental illness the previous year. As many as 1 in 25 adults lived with a “serious mental illness,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

All of us are at risk for “mental breakdown” during this particularly stressful time in American history. Studies have researched how people have reacted to past stressful events like riots, natural disasters, etc. The conclusion is that there is “potential for long-term mental health consequences” lasting well beyond the pandemic’s end.

While we’re all at risk for mental health consequences from the pandemic, this can be especially true for people who already struggled with these issues before the virus. Be sure to check on your friends who suffer such ailments. For example, your friends who have problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression could probably use a phone call about now.

Here are some tips on caring for your mental health during COVID-19 (regardless of how well you think you’re doing):

1. Virtually Stay In Touch
Both the CDC and the Mayo Clinic recommend staying connected with friends and family to cope with the strain on your mental health caused by the pandemic.

2. Take a Walk Outside (Alone or 6-feet away from a friend)
The Mayo Clinic notes that getting regular physical activity can reduce anxiety and increase positive moods. Dr. Robert Puff wrote an article on the “fundamental key” to happiness for Psychology Today in 2016. In this article, he says that when he receives a call from a struggling patient, he recommends taking a 30 to 60-minute walk outside and calling him afterward if they are still feeling upset. His assertion is that being in nature allows us to step out of our mental state. He claims to have never received a second call.

3. Consider Virtual Therapy
In light of the pandemic, a lot of therapists are offering virtual therapy sessions to their clients. Do not hesitate to get the help you need. Look into these types of services and see what’s available in your area.

4. Stay Healthy
The biggest reason the pandemic is so stressful is that a lot of us are worrying about getting sick. At some point, you must accept that you are doing all that you can to prevent it. For reliable information on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, check out the guidelines outlined by the CDC.

Here are tips for staying healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and avoid “junk food.”
  • Avoid caffeine (can increase anxiety) and alcohol.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise (if there are too many people outdoors – take advantage of online options).
  • Limit screen time to reduce stress.

5. Make Time To Unwind
The Mayo Clinic notes that it is essential to ignore news outlets and social media and make time to relax. While you must be vigilant during a pandemic, you must also control your fear and stress levels. Spend time with your pets, watch movies with loved ones that live with you (or virtually, if you live alone), or read a good book.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to take extra special care of your mental health. Never hesitate to seek help when you need it. For more information on help with your individual mental health needs, call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843.