If you’re feeling stressed or nervous during these days of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Uncertainty and the sense of not being safe — not to mention physical distancing, round-the-clock news and empty grocery shelves — are stressful. What you’re feeling is common around the world.

We know you’re looking for ways to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. We’ve compiled these tips to help you care for your own and your loved ones’ mental health.

  1. Eat healthfully to keep your body in top working order.
  2. Exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, whether we’re working out at home or taking a solo jog around the neighborhood.
  3. Practice relaxation therapy. Focusing on tensing and relaxing muscle groups can help you relax voluntarily when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
  4.  Let light in. For some people, increased exposure to light can improve symptoms of depression. If you can, open the shades and let more sunlight in.
  5. Be kind to yourself! Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a friend.
  6. Monitor media consumption. While you might want to stay up-to-the-minute with COVID-19 news, too much exposure can be overwhelming. Balance media consumption with other activities you enjoy, such as reading, cooking or listening to music.
  7. Develop a routine. Many times, we feel anxious because things may not be going as planned. In one way or another, our normal routines have been skewed due to COVID-19. By creating a new routine and adapting to these changes, your anxiety will decrease, and you will feel more comfortable with the current reality.
  8. Maintain connections. Even if you can’t get together face-to-face, you can stay connected to friends, family and neighbors with phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media. If you’re feeling lonely, sad or anxious, reach out to your social support networks. Share what you are feeling and offer to listen to friends or family members about their feelings. We are all experiencing this scary and uncertain time together.
  9. Determine what you can control. Many anxieties come from “what ifs.” Focus on the things that you can control and focus on those. Take each day as it comes.

New York State has a free mental health hotline that already has over 6,000 volunteers, with more mental health professionals signing up every day. Please call 1-844-863-9314 if you feel overwhelmed with the circumstances due to COVID-19.

Some other helpful mental health-related resources can be found here:

New York State Office of Mental Health

The Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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