Taking care of mental health during COVID-19

Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, support, and tips. 

How are you doing right now? The past few days and weeks have been stressful and for many people that stress and unease will continue.  While we’re spending so much time focusing on staying healthy, it’s important that our mental health is part of that. Here are some ways to take care of your mental health, whether your worried about current events, spending time alone, or caring for children.

You may be watching the news or scrolling through social media right now and feel overwhelmed. It is common to feel helpless, confused, angry, or worried at times like this. Sometimes we might feel nothing at all. While stress is normal, there are signs of extreme stress to be aware of, these include:
  • Problems sleeping
  • Body pains and muscle tension
  • Problems concentrating
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Headaches
  • Fixating on the news
  • Withdrawing from others
Two hands cradle a cup of red coloured tea in a black and white mugSomething like a pandemic can cause feelings of uncertainty, frustration and anxiety, you might also spend a lot of time thinking about what this could mean for the future. With many things like travel plans being cancelled you may find yourself struggling with how disappointed you’re feeling. Be patient with yourself and the people around you, it can take time to manage these feelings.

As you’re going through your day remember that not everything you’re seeing on social media is accurate, be aware of misinformation. If you’re finding the news distressing, take a break and consider logging off social media.

By now, you’ve likely heard a lot about “social distancing,” a method used to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing requires us to keep distance – two meters (or six feet) apart – from each other and avoid public areas as much as we can. While it might be difficult to distance yourself from others or get together in the same room with friends or extended family, you can still take steps to avoid feeling isolated. Phone or video chat with your loved ones to stay connected, try a new hobby or practice a skill you’ve been meaning to improve, and if possible, try to spend some time outside to get a little fresh air. Try to stick with a routine, eat healthy and drink lots of water.

This can be a very challenging and confusing time for children. Be sure to watch for signs of extreme stress in the children around you. Here are some other tips for helping children navigate their feelings:
  • Encourage your child/children to talk to you about their feelings. Listen to them. Be honest when you are feeling sad, afraid, or worried – but let them know you are there to work through it together.
  • Provide children with age-appropriate but factual information about what is going on.
  • Be honest when there is not an answer to their question, but assure them that you will let them know when you know.
  • Empower children with what they can do right now, review things like proper handwashing and explain why it’s important to disinfect common surfaces and toys.
  • Get some activity together as a family. Try some yoga or other indoor workouts.
This can be a very stressful time, but if you are struggling with continued feelings of extreme stress, can’t shake feelings of despair, anxiety or depression, please consider seeking help through your healthcare provider, family or community organization. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
Take a moment to review our free downloadable psychological first aid guide for more information.

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