Living with uncertainty during the outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for everyone. Health, financial and other concerns can increase anxiety. Things that were normal a few months ago are no longer the norm. Physical distancing makes it difficult to see friends or visit family in person. We've been creative in the use of technology, phone lines and the mail to connect. But it’s not the same. The Vermont Department of Mental Health has compiled some tips to help us get through this unsettling time.
Get the Facts
What we know about COVID-19 is rapidly changing. Misinformation spreads fast. We need trustworthy information from reliable sources like Vermont Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control.nk is external) It helps to limit our exposure to media sources or social media that lead to fear or panic.
Be kind to yourself
The COVID-19 outbreak can add to existing daily challenges. It is normal for an outbreak to be stressful. Let’s be kind to ourselves (link is external) when feelings of anxiety or isolation increase. We can treat ourselves as kindly as we treat loved ones. Interrupt negative thoughts by thinking about an accomplishment or something nice we did for someone else.
Identify the source of your anxiety
This may seem ridiculous. Obviously, it’s COVID-19. But what specifically is worrying? Is it the uncertainty, the health risk to ourselves or our loved ones, or our financial burdens? Identifying specific concerns can help us get distance and feel less overwhelmed.
Let your anxiety be a unifying force
So, we’ve recognized things are uncertain, acknowledged our specific worries, now what? Mental health experts recommend connecting with others, asking for what we need and offering help. Use technology to make connections. A simple phone call or an online meet-up (like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom) with family or friends can be supportive and ease loneliness. Or join Front Porch Forum (link is external) to help people in your community or post your own request.
Self-Care is Key
Taking time for ourselves is even harder when faced with an emergency. It may feel like just one more thing to do. But taking a walk, practicing stress reduction techniques (link is external), like yoga or mindfulness, or reading a fun book or article can shift our mood. It can also strengthen our immune system.
Maintain Healthy Routines
COVID-19 and concerns about getting sick change our daily routines. Having our day-to-day practices disrupted or even ended for a while can be a source of anxiety. Starting today, we can create new routines that support our well-being. Begin the day with a walk outside or a workout and build in healthy breaks throughout the day. Then choose fun evening activities like watching a movie, writing in a journal, playing a musical instrument or a game, and of course, talking with friends and family on the phone or an online platform. Adding fun activities and exercise to our new routines can help alleviate isolation and disruption.
Understanding Grief and Loss
Many people are experiencing grief and loss during this pandemic. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. You might have been unable to be with them when they died. Or were unable to mourn someone’s death in the company of friends and family.
Feelings of grief and loss are common during a public emergency. Even if we haven’t lost a loved one, we are experiencing loss. We’ve lost routines. Some of us have lost jobs, time with friends and family, or missed out on holiday gatherings. Some may have gotten sick with COVID-19 and still feel the effects of the illness.
For those who have not lost anyone, feeling grief or living with a general sense of loss may come as a surprise— especially when those feelings don’t go away. The way each of us mourns or expresses feelings of loss, is unique. So being aware of the broad range of emotions that may come up is helpful.
- Learn more about the process of grief
- If you have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic
- If you are feeling loss due to changes to daily routines and ways of life
What if you are isolated (or quarantined) with your abuser? Reach out for the help you need. Law enforcement is continuing to respond to calls. Hotlines and shelters will remain open. Contact the Vermont Network for more information about your local organization.
- Vermont Network (link is external)
- Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-228-7395
- Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline: 800-489-7273
- LGBTQ+ Survivor Support-line: 802-863-0003
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
- If you’re unable to speak safely: Log onto thehotline.org (link is external) or text LOVEIS to 22522
- If you are in an emergency situation: Call 911
Are you a Vermont teen in distress? Your emotional wellbeing and mental health matter.
During this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, emotional distress and anxiety have increased for many people. Feeling isolated, anxious, confused, overwhelmed or powerless is common. If you are feeling emotional distress related to COVID-19 there are actions you can take for yourself or to help others. Resources are always available to you or your family at this stressful time.
- Call your local mental health crisis line.
- Text VT to 741741 to talk with someone at the Crisis Text Line.
- Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (link is external) at 1-800-273-8255.
- Get connected to Alcohol and Drug Support Services at VT Helplink.
- For multilingual support call 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- Call or text Pathways Vermont peer support line at 833-VT-TALKS (833-888-2557)
- Suicide prevention information (Vermont Department of Health)
- Suicide is Preventable: know the warning signs and help by getting help (Department of Mental Health)
- VT Helplink: Free and confidential alcohol and drug support and referral services - call 802-565-LINK (toll free at 833-565-LINK)
- Mental Health Guide for LGBTQ youth (Outright Vermont)
- Resources for Self Care(link is external)(Vermont Department of Mental Health)
- COVID Support VT: Self-help tips, education and a way to connect to mental health and community services. (Vermont Care Partners)
- Coping with Family Stress During COVID-19 (Vermont Department of Health)
- Grieving the Loss of a Loved One (CDC)
- American Sign Language video: Mental Health and Services for People with Developmental Disabilities During COVID-19