Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Staying Home
We’ve all been abiding by Gov. Phil Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which was implemented to minimize unnecessary activities outside the home and to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, since it was issued on March 24, and in the past few weeks, we’ve seen indications that the spread of the virus in Vermont has slowed. Recently, the governor has outlined a plan to restart the state’s economy by allowing some businesses to reopen.
But as some restrictions are lifted, it’s still vitally important to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing to continue to curb the spread of the coronavirus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent the virus, and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure.
Now you may be thinking, I’ve been social distancing and staying home for about six weeks now, how much longer can I keep this up?
For many of us, our lives have been significantly impacted by this virus. We may have gotten sick or know someone who has gotten sick. Some of us are living in a shared household or close quarters, caring for children and trying to work from home, or have lost our jobs. Because of this, we may be experiencing fear, stress and anxiety, and social distancing and staying home can also cause feelings of isolation.
Just as it’s important to protect ourselves and others from spreading the virus as we continue to work through this pandemic it’s also important to take care of our mental health.
One way to do this is to develop and establish boundaries and routines while trying to work and do schoolwork from home, says Stacy Thrall, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) NEK Affiliate Leader/Certified Health Coach.
“Kids are home now and they’re going to be for the foreseeable future, and parents are working at home so certainly stress levels can be running high,” Thrall said. “It’s a great time to establish boundaries and routines for everyone.”
Thrall suggested including children in developing new routines and structuring days, including when to do their school work, when to take breaks, and when to have lunch. It’s also important to create routines for spending time together as a family, like eating dinner together or participating in a family activity, Thrall said.
For parents who are working from home, Thrall said it’s essential to have your own space to do your work, and to take breaks throughout the day.
“Inactivity is not good for us,” Thrall said. “Getting up throughout the day and taking a break, going outside, getting some sunshine, even if it’s just a 10 minute break, is beneficial.”
Even though we need to continue to physically distance ourselves from one another, we need to make sure we’re staying socially connected. Thrall said one of the best ways to do this is by having a support system.
“Make sure you’re connecting with your family, your friends and your medical support as needed so that you’re managing your well-being,” Thrall said, adding that actively managing a physical or mental health condition is easier to do with support.
Here are a few resources for staying supported and connected, or if you need help during this uncertain time:
- NAMI Weekly Check-in Zoom meetings every Monday from 12 – 1 pm. Visit namivt.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for the video conference link.
- Support Groups meeting by video or phone. Visit https://namivt.org/support/ or email email@example.com for updates and additional information.
- Vermont Support Line: (833) VT-TALKS / (833) 888-2557 or text (833) 888-2557. Now open 24/7.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255.
- Crisis Text line: Text VT to 741741.
- For additional resources, call 802-876-7949 or 802-639-6480 (toll-free), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Don’t be afraid to get the support you need,” Thrall said. “Staying connected is huge.”
We want to hear from you! Are there health topics or issues that you’d like to read about in an upcoming Vital Signs? Email us your suggestions at email@example.com, or mail them to NVRH, c/o Katie Bocchino, P.O. Box 905, St. Johnsbury, VT, 05819.