COVID-19: Mental Self-Care Resources

As we focus on safeguarding our physical health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to ignore our mental well-being—and that of family, friends and neighbors who may be struggling with increasing feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression during this stressful time.  

Below are important reminders, resources to mental health professionals, coping strategies, self-care apps—and a recommended break from media exposure. 

Four Reminders Going Forward

  • Accept your emotions. Anger, fear, anxiety, etc. are all normal. Be gentle on yourself and offer patience to others. We’re in this together.
  • Limit exposure to media and remember that official communications from the CDC are the best source of up-to-date information.
  • Get moving, if at all possible. 
  • Connect with others to help improve your physical health and psychological well-being.

Reach Out to Professionals

  • Call 211 from any phone in OC for help with anything from legal aid to mental health emergencies to housing and transportation. 
  • The NAMI warm line is open to OC residents. Calling or texting can connect someone with support and resources in their respective counties.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863 to receive free and confidential support 24/7.

Please note: If you already have a counselor or therapist (even if you haven’t seen them in a while), you can call their office and ask about “telehealth” services or virtual counseling/therapy. Many offices now offer these services that do not require you to come into the office.

Be Mindful of Media Exposure
It is important to keep up to date on the frequently changing information regarding COVID-19 and the measures being put in place to keep everyone safe and healthy. As you are likely aware, it’s hard to turn on the TV or open the internet without being exposed to 24 hours of breaking news banners, podcasts, and stories from around the world. The more we watch or listen to this media, the more it can affect our mental health and stress. You may feel better if you limit your exposure to this kind of media, and use reputable sources (i.e. WHO, CDC, OC Health Agency).

Here are some links to the above-mentioned health-related resources:

Positive Coping Skills 

  • Reach out for support; text/call friends or a supportive person
  • Acknowledge your emotions and find active ways to divert your attention
  • Meditation can help create a healthy immune response and reduce anxiety
  • Deep breathing: Inhale 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 4. There are many variations, so find what works best for you
  • Use an app to relax or connect to emotional support
  • Take time to rest and stay healthy
  • Focus on things you can control: washing hands, and staying hydrated and nourished
  • Create a routine and structure for your day at home
  • Play with a pet or take your dog for a walk
  • Exercise (run, walk, find a YouTube workout) if you are feeling well enough to do so
  • Yoga With Adriene is offering all classes for free
  • Les Mills has a free tree-week trial to do online yoga, Pilates, barre, weight lifting, cardio, etc. 
  • Down Dog App is offering free online yoga through the end of March
  • Write (poetry, stories, journal)
  • Listen to music
  • Clean something
  • Organize something
  • Read—libraries have digital books you can access with your library card
  • Cook or bake
  • Play board games or online games
  • FaceTime, Facebook Live, Instagram Live or Google Duo (app for folks with iPhones trying to connect with Android users) with your friends and relatives—especially those you can’t visit because they have compromised health

Apps for Self-Care
Many of these apps have waived their in-app purchase fees, but they all have free options that can help with managing the stress of the news and media.

Stop, Breathe & Think: A short “check-in” with this app provides 1- to 5-minute mindfulness activities that can help keep you calm and create a little space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions.

UCLA Mindful App: Offers basic meditations and wellness meditations and includes how-to videos and a built-in timer. 

SAM app: Helps manage anxiety (SAM stands for self-anxiety management) by helping you be aware of your triggers and understand your thoughts and behavior better. 

Calm contains audio content that strengthens mental fitness and tackles some of the biggest mental health challenges of today: stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression. 

Mindshift uses cognitive behavior therapy-based tools to offer quick relief from anxiety, worry and panic. It offers coping cards, a thought journal and a check-in system to create healthy habits and set goals. 


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