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Taking care of your mental health during COVID

By now everyone is aware of the physical signs of COVID-19 — fever, cough and difficulty breathing among others — but what about the mental aspect?

There’s no denying the stress that is gripping individuals around the globe — from fear of the virus itself, to the economic fallout, to loss of income, to social isolation — people are dealing with a host of issues that are new to them.

When asked for advice as to what local residents could do to cope with the stress and other mental health issues, Plumas County Behavioral Health Director Tony Hobson said it’s best to adhere to the guidelines established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Resources Administration.

Take the following steps to cope with a disaster:

Take care of your body – Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about  HYPERLINK “http://www.samhsa.gov/wellness/strategies” wellness strategiesexternal icon for mental health.

Connect with others – Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.

Take breaks – Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.

Stay informed – When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.

Avoid too much exposure to news – Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.

Seek help when needed – If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990.

How to cope with social distancing

Reaching out to people you trust is one of he best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can:

• Use the telephone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.

• Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime.

• If approved by health authorities and your health care providers, arrange for your friends and loved ones to bring you newspapers, movies, and books. Sign up for emergency alerts via text or email to ensure you get updates as soon as they are available.

• Call SAMHSA’s free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, if you feel lonely or need support.

• Use the Internet, radio, and television to keep up with local, national, and world events.

• If you need to connect with someone because of an ongoing alcohol or drug problem, consider calling your local Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous offices.

Seek practical ways to cope and relax

• Relax your body often by doing things that work for you — take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activities you enjoy.

• Pace yourself between stressful activities, and do something fun after a hard task.

• Talk about your experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends, if you find it helpful.

• Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.

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