Dealing with Mental Illness During a Pandemic

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For those of us who struggle with mental illness, this time can be especially taxing on our mental health. It seems as if we are bombarded by horrible, anxiety-inducing news day in and day out – with no end to the madness in sight.

If you are lucky enough to be able to have found a therapist that works for you and your budget, keep doing that. In between sessions (or, if you don’t have access to a therapist), here are some pointers and tools for keeping yourself from spiraling:

  1. Spend a limited amount of time on social media. You probably see this tip everywhere nowadays, as the rabbit hole of information available to you on social media just does not seem to be getting any smaller. Create timers for yourself, and even try setting your phone to grayscale mode to make social media less enticing. When you are online, try to mute accounts that don’t make you feel all that great about yourself or the state of the world. Opt for a healthier feed, and go on a social media “diet”. It’s important to stay informed, but information overload is not necessarily good for your mental well-being.
  2. Incorporate more things that relax you, comfort you, and make you feel good into your daily routine. This can be anything from a hot shower to just snuggling under your favorite blanket. Try to find comfort in small things throughout the day – and adjust as needed. Doing things daily that make you feel good is going to help you feel better in the long run, and make each day just a little more manageable.
  3. Download meditation and self-care apps (and try to use them). We all fall victim to downloading apps that we never even open. Choose one or two self-care-related apps to use on a consistent basis as a soothing tool. Whether it’s a mood tracking app, a journaling app, or a mindfulness app – using one repeatedly will assist in improving your quality of life and subsequently, your thought processes.
  4. Channel anxious energy into doing something creative. When all else fails – use whatever you are feeling to create something. It doesn’t have to be good – just completely give yourself permission to perform a cathartic creative ritual for you and only you.
  5. Take a walk. Maintaining social distancing rules (and a mask if you are walking somewhere crowded), taking a walk outdoors is always good for your mental health. Especially if sheltering in place has really got you down, creating a daily walking routine around the neighborhood is a great way to keep your mental health in a good place.
  6. Chat with a loved one or a trusted person about how you are feeling. We get by with a little help from our loved ones. Let them know that you are struggling and need to talk some things through. If you are not in the mood for advice – make that apparent at the beginning of the conversation. Sometimes just venting helps us feel better.
  7. Stretch. Stretching is a super simple thing to start incorporating into your morning and evening routines. Stretching not only helps increase blood flow, but it also has been proven to be a great stress reliever. Maintaining daily stretching habits will assist in keeping your mind calm and your body feeling good.
  8. If you are on medication, keep taking it. For those who take medication for mental illness, try to resist the urge to skip doses right now. Sometimes it’s hard because you “feel better than usual”, but trust that in the long run it will be beneficial to you. Especially when dealing with the trauma that comes with a pandemic, you already are under so much mental stress. Try not to put yourself under anymore.
  9. Learn your limits + balance your schedule: If you have the privilege to do so, consider equally balancing your schedule to make sure each day has equal parts work, rest, and play. Easier said than done, to be sure. Everyone struggles with keeping hectic lives in check every now and then, but make a serious effort not to overbook yourself. Learning your limits is essential to maintaining a healthier mental state.
  10. Journal: Write it out. Journaling is a guaranteed judgement-free zone – so use it to your advantage. Unleash everything you are feeling, and rip it up afterward if you feel like it! Think of it as symbolically “destroying” whatever it is that is upsetting you.
  11. Practice self-awareness + set boundaries as necessary: try and stay on top of what triggers you, and what sets you off emotionally. Notice your limits as a human being going through a pandemic, and set boundaries accordingly.
  12. Take it easy on yourself: It’s really hard right now. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling – try not to judge yourself too harshly for how you react. Notice your reactions and your moods, take them into consideration, and find a way to move forward in the healthiest way you can.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an immediate mental health emergency, PLEASE CALL 911 or contact one of the following 24-hour crisis lines:


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