Coronavirus: Guidance for Better Mental Health
By Boris M
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health.
That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological implications it carries can seriously impact one’s mental wellbeing.
Government legislation, mass media coverage, and the increasing global death toll will cause a lot of stress, especially for the older population, children, and people with a history of mental health problems.
It’s of the utmost importance that we try to remain as composed as we can during this time.
The fear and anxiety that is gripping the nation are as contagious, if not more so than the illness itself.
While we are in no way diminishing the severity of the physical and epidemiological worry surrounding coronavirus, it is crucial that everyone has access to mental health resources, and is clued up on how they can look after themselves and their own mental health.
People with pre-existing mental problems should continue to manage and track their mental health. Self-care is vital, and it’s also important to try and reduce the stress for ourselves and others around us.
How Your Mental Health Might be Affected
The coronavirus might affect not only your physical wellbeing but also your mental health. As we might be instructed to stay home due to the pandemic, the mental health symptoms might worsen.
You might notice several mental health issues, such as:
- Increased anxiety
- Excessively checking for symptoms
- Feelings of irritation
- The normal aches will feel like you have the virus
- Sleeping troubles
- Feelings of helplessness
Check if you show these symptoms and try to control yourself as much as you can.
Things to Remember About COVID-19
Information About the Virus is Evolving
One of the most crucial pieces to the puzzle includes the answer to the question about how the disease is transmitted between people. We know that it's possibly spread through saliva, namely through respiratory droplets which are distributed when infected individuals cough or sneeze. We also know so far that it is spread similarly to how other viruses are spread (through close contact of fewer than 6 feet) but exactly how is still unknown. When researchers are able to answer this question, we will be able to control and diminish the spreading of the virus, which is the first and most crucial step. Secondly, it's still quite unclear how the immune system responds to the virus. The pathogenesis of the infection is still unknown. While we know that the symptoms can largely vary, it's still somewhat unclear. Research has shown that the virus could be spread through contaminated surfaces such as handrails, worktops, or public doors and buttons. Some coronavirus cases are also highly infectious, while others have been infected without knowing exactly how or when they contracted the covid-19 bug. Older people and people with chronic diseases are at a higher risk and might exhibit more severe symptoms, while for other people who have a relatively strong immune system, the disease will only exhibit mild symptoms.
Experts ar Still Looking for Explanations
Scientists are trying to discover the best possible treatment for the coronavirus, although it might take a while to find the proper solution. We know from history that it has taken several years to find treatment for diseases, although experts are working double-time on this one. The lack of testing is a concern, as it can give us valuable information about the virus and how it spreads and develops. Billions of dollars are being pumped into research worldwide, as the search for the cure goes on. Remdesivir has shown promising signs with treating MERS and SARS before, so it's possible that scientists will try to use it as a potential therapeutic. Promising signs have also come from China, where they have already tested a vaccine called mRNA-1273 on a human being, although it can take months or years before it's readily available. 
You Can Manage the Illness
The only thing we can do at the moment is to manage the illness and treat the symptoms, which include:
- Breathing difficulties
You can ask your medical provider for medications for these symptoms if you have exhibited them, although it's also important that you self-isolate. Rather than visiting the doctor, you should call them and ask for the next steps you should take. Symptoms will occur from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. If the symptoms worsen and become unmanageable at home, call your personal doctor for further instructions.
Everyone Should Take Precautionary Measures
It’s crucial that you take precautions that can prevent you from getting the virus, and spreading it if you already show signs of it.
Here are the precautions that everyone should take at this moment in time:
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds. Also, use hand sanitizer
- Stay home if you are sick
- Avoid touching your face, especially the mouth and nose areas
- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, or any parts of your house that might carry viruses
- Design a plan with your family. Try to isolate yourselves from the neighbours as much as possible, and prepare for isolation of the potential ill members
- Masks and face coverings are effecitive, particularly N95 or N99 masks, however, these masks are expensive and contribute to landfill, so don’t get too hung up on the price tag of the mask you use
- Protect the elderly
Plan for Staying at Home
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people might be instructed to stay at home.
People might also work from home, or you can enter self-isolation to prevent yourself from getting the virus. Here’s what to know.
1. Find Somewhere Safe to Stay
Not everyone will be happy to stay at home, but it’s for the best of everyone at this point. However, for some, this will not be good as their home conditions might not be the best.
You can try asking a friend or a family member to provide you with a more pleasant place to stay. It’s best to check with your government and read the government advice about staying at home. 
Also, it’s advisable to get some help with your housing problems.
2. Eat Properly and Drink Enough
At this moment in time, it’s crucial that you eat well and drink enough water. You should strive to bring all the necessary nutrients from your diet, and avoid restaurants if they are open.
Consider getting food deliveries to your home or ask someone to drop off the food at your home.
Drinking enough water is also just as important. It’s not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental health.
3. Keep Taking Your Medication
It’s important that you keep taking your medication, even at this time of the coronavirus. You should try to order your medications to your home, and only order from reputable sites. You can also ask someone else to collect the medication for you.
4. Continue with Your Treatment and Support
Try to continue with the treatment that you might have been receiving prior to the coronavirus outbreak. With the technology available, it’s possible to continue sessions with your therapists; they can be done by phone, online, or by text.
Consult your therapist about the treatment, and ask them to support you if you struggle without the one-on-one sessions.
Guidelines are Still Bound to Change
As the scientists are still uncovering the mysteries around the COVID-19 disease, some changes to the guidelines are bound to happen.
The pandemic might take a turn in a different direction, and you should follow the guidelines provided by the medical institutions in your area.
Anxiety Symptoms Mimicking Coronavirus
If you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks often, you might start to think it’s the new coronavirus. Check the symptoms before you start assuming it’s a coronavirus, and try to calm yourself down.
Once you realize that the symptoms of COVID-19 are very much different from those of an anxiety attack, you’ll feel more at ease.
The early signs of COVID-19 are coughing, sore throat, headaches, and fever.
For anxiety attacks, it’s usual to have a racing heartbeat, sweating, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath (which is sometimes also a symptom of coronavirus).
Support for People with OCD and Anxiety
If you or any of your family members suffer from symptoms of anxiety or OCD during coronavirus, contact your personal doctor or a psychiatrist.
They will ask you to assess the situation and evaluate what symptoms you have. As it’s not possible to attend one-on-one sessions at the moment, they might arrange a video call with you or contact you in some other ways.
Mental Health Support Resources
As self-isolation sets in, more people are turning to online and digital resources to help them get through this uncertain period.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of apps for you to download to help keep you in touch with loved ones, and there is a multitude of online self-help resources, guided meditations, home workouts, podcasts, and online articles.
For more information about support during the coronavirus for mental health problems, visit this website.
Taking Care of Your Mental Wellbeing
Try to take as much action as possible to ensure your mental health won’t suffer during this time.
Here are some tips on how to take care of your mental wellbeing.
1. Connect with People without Meeting Them
As you may already be aware, it’s recommended to stay at home and avoid physical contact with other people as much as possible.
Larger groups shouldn’t meet at all. Luckily, with modern technology, we can easily connect with others online.
2. Set up a Routine
For people who stay at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, it might feel slightly chaotic to stay at home for such a long period.
Therefore it’s important that we set up a routine and stick to it to prevent us from becoming lazy and depressed.
It would be a great idea to devise a plan and write it down, and then try to stick to it on a daily basis.
3. Physical Activity is Key
Try to stay as active as you can. You can exercise at home, even without equipment. Try to follow online videos, there’s a lot of resources for that.
Additionally, now you will have time to clean your home and do your chores, which is a good form of activity. Go for walks in nature, and try to sit less.
4. Go Out into Nature and Get Some Air
Get as much sunlight as you can, especially if you live in an area where there’s an opportunity to go out into nature. Go for walks, grab some fresh air, and expose yourself to sunlight.
Getting enough vitamins not just during the COVID-19 outbreak, but at all times, is crucial for a stronger immune system and mental wellbeing.
5. Work or Study from Home
You might be instructed to do that, but prepare yourself properly. Make a working environment where you’ll be able to focus on your work. It might be hard to do that, especially if you have children to care for.
Try to keep them as busy as possible – make sure they do their homework and avoid other children. For employees working from home, read everything about your rights and ask the employer about the policies.
6. Keep Yourself Busy
Now that we will have more time to spend, make sure you keep yourself busy. Do activities, clean your home, have a clear out, sort your computer files, photos, or anything that needs sorting.
7. Keep Your Brain Challenged
Read books, magazines, articles, online material, solve puzzles or crosswords, watch shows or films, listen to podcasts. Anything that will keep your mind busy and your thoughts free of the coronavirus.
8. If You Start Feeling Claustrophobic
Open your windows, get out of the house and grab some fresh air. You can do the chores on your garden, or even look out your window more often to get a sense of space. Change rooms you’re in often.
9. Limit Your Media Diet
Being informed about the coronavirus spread is helpful, although excessive worrying about it doesn’t help your mental health.
Especially if you watch the news or listen to the radio, where almost the only thing that’s talked about is the COVID-19 spread. Keep a balance between being informed and excessively following the news.
Too much information every day can become stressful. Check the news once or twice a day, which is more than enough to get the latest news.
Plus, limit your time you spend on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, where everyone shares their thoughts and feelings on the novel coronavirus.
Coronavirus and Substance Abuse
If you’re recovering or suffering from substance abuse disorders, it’s crucial that you continue treatment despite the coronavirus outbreak.
You can get medication delivered to you or you can ask a relative or a friend to collect them for you.
People who suffer from substance abuse disorders are more susceptible to diseases and viruses, and that’s because of the failing immune system and ill-health that’s induced due to the disorder.
Another potential issue for substance abuse sufferers is that they can easily relapse now that they’re forced to stay at home.
Keep yourself busy throughout the day, and read the guidelines above. Stay strong.
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