It’s always the right time to commit to healthy habits and behaviors. With the COVID-19 pandemic upending so many routines, experts say that focusing on the things within your control is particularly important.
“A lot of people are grieving at this moment. Some are grieving loss of loved ones, but people can also grieve the loss of employment, routines or the ability to be with family and friends,” says Dr. Patrice A. Harris, president of the American Medical Association.
“Everyone should know that these feelings are normal, and they should allow themselves to experience them.”
Here are some simple steps from the AMA to maintain your physical and mental health during the unusual times of COVID-19:
1. Channel your feelings of anxiety or helplessness into action. Practice physical distancing and make sure to wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Create a safety action plan for you and your family. Consider small gestures, like offering to pick up groceries for an older or at-risk neighbor.
2. Take care of yourself physically. Get as much sleep as you can, try to include fruits and vegetables into your diet, and make sure you move. With many gyms and parks closed and physical distancing in place, it may seem harder to work out, so consider options at home to stay active.
3. Create new routines. With more people working from home and/or caring for school-aged children, building routines is more important than ever. Save time for work, time for meals and time for decompressing to create a new normal.
4. Take time to turn off social media and the news. It is critical at this moment to know what is happening in the world and to stay connected with family and friends, but if social media and 24-hour news are making you anxious, consume them in doses.
5. Feel your feelings. It’s natural to worry and be afraid at a moment like this. It is also important to remember there are physicians, public health ofﬁcials at all levels of government, as well as experts in the private sector, working tirelessly to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19.
6. Stay connected. Social media gives us a common connection point, but there is a real opportunity at this moment to stay connected via phone calls and video chats with friends, family and even people you haven’t heard from in a while.
7. If you have children, talk to them in an age-appropriate way and avoid ascribing feelings to them. Don’t say, “I know you’re scared.” Kids are observant and they’re wise. They may know things are different, but they may not be afraid. Let them know smart people are working on ways to keep us all safe. Model healthy coping.