Promoting Positive Mental Health During COVID-19
General Strategies for Promoting Positive Mental Health
During this unprecedented time, it is normal for children and adults alike to experience a range of uncomfortable and difficult emotions, such as anxiety, stress, frustration, boredom, and fear. It is important to try to manage these emotions in a positive way so that we will be less likely to experience long-term mental health problems when we are able to return to our regular daily routines.
Here are some ideas collected from professional health and mental health organizations (the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, American Psychological Association, and National Association of School Psychologists) on what we can do to help ourselves and our children promote positive mental health while we stay at home and work together to decrease the impact of COVID-19:
- Have a trusted source [CDC, World Health Organization, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)] for clear and accurate information on current recommendations for keeping safe and healthy.
- Limit the amount of time you spend watching news report or scrolling through social media pages. Also be sure to ask about and monitor the ways your child is accessing information about COVID-19. Too much media (particularly social media) coverage of crisis situations has been found to have a negative impact on mental health.
- Speak up when you hear, see, or read discriminatory comments. Reports of violence against Asian Americans have increased at a time when we should all be working together to get through this public health crisis. Report incidents of harassment to CDPHE here.
- As much as possible, stick to a daily routine. Develop a routine with older children rather than for them. Predictability can help diminish stress.
- Set your expectations of ‘normal’ and what is a ‘good day’ with the awareness that there are aspects of our current situation that are out of our control. Focus on what you CAN do each day.
- Follow basic hygiene recommendations, make healthy food choices, move your body every day, and maintain good sleep habits. Taking care of physical health is an important part of mental health.
- Stay connected with people who support you. It is OK for children to use technology to stay connected with their friends. Our relationships with other people can have a positive effect on our mental health.
- Make sure to spend some time focused on positive things: spend some time doing things you enjoy (individually and as a family), look for stories of good going on in the world, and be patient and kind with yourself and others.
- Be aware when uncomfortable feelings like stress or anxiety have become overwhelming for you and take active steps to manage these feelings. Learn about new coping strategies or use coping strategies that have worked for you in the past.
- Be careful not to rely on unhealthy coping strategies like excessive alcohol or marijuana use.
- Talk with your children about family expectations while everyone is at home. Anticipate that with increased stress for everyone, conflict may occur. Having plans in place for how you will respond may be helpful.
- If needed, reach out for additional mental health support. Immediate help can be found at Colorado Crisis Services or SAMSHA's Disaster Distress Helpline.