Mental Health Tips While Social Distancing

Take this time social distancing to take care of your mental health. The world is very confusing at this time, and while staying healthy is emphasized, don't forget a big part of that is your mental health. Here are some tips from our psychiatric nurse practitioner, LeeAnn Berg.

Give yourself a break from social media.

Take a break from the media and news outlets (that includes social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) Staying informed is important during these unprecedented and unpredictable times but consume news wisely.  Be aware of where you are getting information from.  Facebook posts are NOT reputable sources.  Instead, go to the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health websites if you have questions or concerns.

Get an adequate amount of sleep.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule and nightly routine.  Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.

Get dressed up!

Get up and get dressed (into something other than sweatpants) as if you are going to leave the house for the day.  This is a simple trick but effective.

Avoid "binge watching."

 Avoid Netflix, Hulu, Prime, or any type of television platform "binge watching".

Start those goals or projects.

Work on goals, home projects, or implement those self-care routines you have put on the back burner for months.

Maintain a healthy diet.

Utilize some online resources.

Take advantage of the free online resources available right now.  A simple Google search will bring up a plethora of websites offering the following:

  • Online museum tours
  • Disney virtual rides
  • Virtual concerts
  • Art resources
  • Online books
  • Workout videos

Try a mental health app.

The Department of Veteran Affairs offers a handful of scientifically approved applications which can be found here: https://mobile.va.gov/appstore/mental-health

Implement grounding techniques if you feel the stress and anxiety is overwhelming.

Implement grounding techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, or journaling.  The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is another example of grounding one can use to focus their thoughts during moments of high anxiety or panic.  Acknowledge FIVE things you around you.  Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you (touch them).  Acknowledge THREE things you hear (external sounds such as the dog barking or internal such as your heart beating).  Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.  Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.

Be kind to yourself. 

Your normalcy was abruptly disrupted which can cause intense, uncomfortable emotions.  Acknowledge those feelings, talk to trusted individuals, and make your mental health a priority.

Other resources:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline
1-800-985-5990 or text "TalkWithUs" to 66746

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line
Text "HOME" to 741741

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233