Social distancing, sheltering in place, quarantines, lockdowns — all of these describe what many people all over the world are doing right now to protect themselves from COVID 19. But there’s another word that, perhaps, more poignantly captures the bigger picture when it comes to these activities: isolation. And although isolation is good for our physical health right now because of the virus, it can spell trouble for our mental health.
Rheeda Walker, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Houston, said there are ways to stay mentally and emotionally health while keeping socially distant.
“We can still find ways to connect meaningfully with others without saying we’re completely isolated,” she told Texas Standard Monday.
Also, person’s outlook about the pandemic can have an affect on their mental health, especially when it’s negative or a feeling of powerlessness.
To reduce the strain, Walker has several tips:
– Don’t underestimate the value of virtual social experiences
– Notice when you’re having negative thoughts and try to steer your mind back to the present moment
– Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling
– Use journaling as a way to put some of that mental and emotional stress on paper, and out of your mind. Journaling also helps you become more aware of any negative thought patterns.
– Try to see the pandemic as an opportunity to learn about yourself and how you operate under stress, and possibly to start changing some of those less helpful responses
– Take the opportunity to do projects and chores you’ve been putting off
– Call a friend on the phone, instead of just sending a text or email
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