6 tips for staying mentally healthy while social distancing

Posted on 03/24/20 04:30:pm


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While social distancing and staying at home may keep us healthy physically during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can take a toll on our mental health. See some tips below for staying mentally health during this time of social distancing.

“There’s already a mental health epidemic in the U.S.,” says Dr. Melissa Nelson, campus clinical director at Rogers Behavioral Health in Brown Deer. “The COVID-19 crisis is adding to that by increasing anxiety for many. We need to talk more about that and bring it into the open.”

Dr. Nelson shares how to protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Validate your feelings. We all need to allow ourselves to feel sad and grieve the loss of socializing. Allow yourself to be upset if you can’t meet your friends for a night out. Allow your children to cry about missing their favorite teacher.
  2. Rethink how you use technology. We need to change our definition of play dates. Set up a virtual play date for your children so they can see their friends and share in an activity, like following a recipe together. Adults can have virtual dinner parties. Now more than ever, use technology to stay connected.
  3. Be intentional. Instead of having causal conversations like we do all the time­, really stop to ask people how they’re doing, and be open and real about how you’re doing. Ask yourself how you’re processing what’s happening.
  4. Be creative. Even if we can’t go to stores or the mall, get outside and go for a hike. Maybe leave some painted rocks for someone else to find.
  5. Practice mindfulness skills. Being mindful means being fully present in every moment without judgment. It’s important to remember self-care even if it means putting an hour aside for yourself every day to read or have some quiet time.
  6. ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS is a distress tolerance skill we use in dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT.

A – activity. Stay busy with things that keep your mind off negative emotions.

C – contribute. Do something kind for someone else. It can help ease your stress.

C – comparison. Put the situation in perspective.

E – emotions. Find a way to feel the opposite emotion.

P – push away. Set aside emotions temporarily, especially if you’re a parent so your children don’t pick up on your anxiety.

T – thoughts. Replace negative, anxious thoughts with activities that busy your mind, like a Sudoku puzzle.

S – sensation. Engage your senses. Go outside and watch birds. Listen to music. Drink hot tea.


Rogers can help

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health symptoms, Rogers can help by providing evidence-based treatment for adults, adolescents, and children. Call 800-767-4411 or request a free, confidential screening online.

Call 800-767-4411 or go to rogersbh.org to request a free screening.