Ways to improve mental health during Coronavirus crisis

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Those with mental health conditions may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Carson Felkel said isolation is proving to be a powerful trigger for those struggling with mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

“It’s very common to feel like you have no control over the situation,” he said. “You may feel more anxious, down, overwhelmed, angry than every before.”

As recommended by the CDC, People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Preparedness page.

Dr. Felkel also warned that spending hours on social media and other screens can be especially dangerous for your mental health.

“There’s also a risk in being on social media or the TV too much. We know that during traumatic times that can actually lead to post traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

To combat this attack on your mental health, he said it is important to arm yourself with positivity and spend time doing things you enjoy.

“It’s really important to develop your own positive self talk. Some might call this a mantra. Any time you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed, repeat to yourself that this too will pass”

Dr. Felkel explained that in times of isolation and stress, it’s best to focus on what you can control: your physical and emotional health.

“For physical health its just really important that you keep some type of routine. That’s probably going to be a different routine that you’re used to. It’s really important to stay hydrated, eat healthily and get good sleep. In fact, sleep may be one of the most important things we can do during this time,” he said.

Being mindful of your breathing is another helpful tool.

“Maybe when you’re washing your hands the next time, for that 20 seconds, be aware of your breathing,” he suggested. “Inhale for 5 seconds, then exhale for 5 seconds.”

Connecting with friends and family is vital to your emotional health as well, he said, recommending that you check in with family and friends by writing, calling, video chatting or emailing.

“[This is] not only to help yourself feel connected, but to check in on people and make sure they’re safe”

Dr. Felkel said he and all other Bon Secours physicians are available virtually, and urges those who need counseling to reach out to their doctor or a mental health professional.

“Bon Secours St. Francis has every primary care provider and mental health provider up virtually to do a visit with you, so please reach out for help. We’re here to help,” he said.

If stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, the CDC recommends that you call your healthcare provider.

Most importantly, if you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:

– Call 911

– Schedule a COVID-19 related visit with a doctor by clicking here.

-Visit the Disaster Distress Help line xternal icon, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746 Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.samhsa.gov/disaster-preparedness or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224

-Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224 https://www.thehotline.org/

-Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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