How to Care for Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic


If you’re feeling scared and overwhelmed by the spread of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Check out these tips for caring for your mental health and loved ones during this time.

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The recent spread of COVID-19 across the world has caused a lot of anxiety and fear. While scientists and medical professionals are working extremely hard to care for those who are sick and help stop this virus from spreading so quickly, people all over the country are now being asked to practice “social distancing” and stay home as much as possible.

If you’re feeling scared, overwhelmed or sad about this current health crisis, you are not alone. There are a lot of things we’re uncertain about and this is a very new experience, so it’s completely normal to feel uneasy. Everyone is feeling nervous right now, but your community is here to support you. We’re sharing our tips for how you can get the help you need and take care of your mental health during this stressful time.

Limit your intake of social media and news

Now that most of us are spending much more time than usual inside our houses, we may be tempted to check in with the news more frequently or obsessively. While it’s good to stay informed, watching too much content about COVID-19 on TV or the internet can create unnecessary negativity, fear and worry.

Try to limit the amount of time you spend watching the news or reading articles about the crisis.

While social media can be a helpful way to stay connected with loved ones and find entertainment during this time, remember that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation being shared on social media about the effects of the virus.

Some people may try to spread rumors or share scary stories that aren’t entirely true. When it comes to information about COVID-19, make sure you’re getting your facts from trusted sources like the CDC.

Help your kids understand what’s going on

At first, your kids may be excited to learn that they won’t be going back to school for a while. But soon they’ll start to realize that their normal routines – trips to the movies, playdates with friends, visits to the park, etc – have to change for a while.

Be honest with the kids in your life about what’s going on, and explain things to them in a simple, calm way. Make sure they know that everything we are doing will help more people stay healthy and help our city and country control the virus.

It’s good to answer their questions, but try to make sure they’re hearing the information from you, not from the news or social media. This will help them stay calm and happy until things go back to normal.

Many kids will be sad to know that they can’t see their friends as much or do their favorite activities. Remember that we are all going through this together, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your family, friends and social networks if you need help finding childcare or coming up with ideas for keeping your kids entertained.

Taking care of yourself

Even though your normal routine may be very different for a while, setting up a daily schedule and taking extra good care of yourself is essential.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time you normally would. Eat nutritious meals, drink plenty of water and get plenty of exercise. If you are able to spend some time outdoors every day, doing so will have a very positive impact on your mental health.

Sadly, these new routines mean we won’t be able to spend as much as time with some of our friends, colleagues or family members for a little while. Luckily, we have things like FaceTime, Skype, online games and social media to help us stay connected with people we love most. Make time each day to check in with those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you’re scared – we’re all in the same boat, and we are all here to support each other.

Remember, while these temporary changes may be uncomfortable, this is all helping our society heal faster.

If you need extra support, Valleywise Health is always here to offer you mental and physical health care. You can still book an appointment at any of our Community Health Centers or speak with us over the phone. To learn more and find a location near you, visit ValleywiseHealth.org or call 1-833-VLLYWSE.

About the Author

Alicia L. Cowdrey, MD - Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Cowdrey is outpatient medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Valleywise Health. She also serves as associate program director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at Creighton Alliance. In addition to treating patients at Valleywise Health, Dr. Cowdrey is training the next generation of psychiatrists through Creighton University – Arizona Health Education Alliance.

Read more posts by Alicia L. Cowdrey, MD  Browse all topics

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