If you struggled with mental health before the quarantine, it’s likely the current pandemic has not made those issues better. Many people are struggling with mental health and trauma issues more than ever because of COVID-19. Most people experience generalized anxiety, but some are experiencing worsened trauma symptoms, are being traumatized from isolation, or from being exposed to life-threatening conditions.
Research has shown that many ICU survivors experience trauma, especially when experiencing critical illnesses, such as the coronavirus. More than ever, we need to focus on maintaining our baseline mental health and wellness right now. Even for those without direct exposure to COVID-19, the changing of our everyday lives and uncertainty for the future can worsen trauma, depression, and anxiety.
Try to remember these 4 M’s of mental health if you’re having a hard time managing your mental health during quarantine!
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Simply put, you can easily use mindfulness by being present with yourself, focusing on your breath, and being aware of the activity you are doing.
Exercise can help to regulate anxiety, and even small amounts of exercise each day can be enough to improve your mood. Whether it’s just stretching, doing a quick yoga pose, or going outside if you can while maintaining social distancing, practicing small amounts of movement each day can help to mitigate the effects of depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms. You can also practice mindfulness while doing an activity!
Practicing mastery involves anything creative, even if you’re not good at it! Specifically, try focusing on an activity not related to work. It could be as simple as cooking, knitting, coloring, or organizing your closet. Make sure not to put too much pressure on yourself!
Talking to people you trust about issues unrelated to your trauma can be really helpful. These conversations don’t have to be intense and emotional, but just simply reaching out to your friends and showing that you care for them will help to alleviate feelings of isolation which can worsen trauma symptoms. Try talking to your friends or people you trust if you’re having a difficult day!
If you think you’re experiencing trauma symptoms for the first time, or if your symptoms are worsening right now, you can take the PTSD Symptom Checklist to try an evidence-based self evaluation, or reach out to your doctor to receive medical attention. If you are having a crisis, call a hotline! And if you need help to manage and track your trauma symptoms, try the Mira app for free on Android, coming to iOS soon.