How to Care for Your Loved One's Mental Health During COVID-19

At such an unprecedented time in all of our lives, it is hard not to constantly think about the coronavirus. We are all consuming continually changing information about the virus from the news, social media, and our family members.  Your loved one, who is now spending a large portion of their time in their home, may be especially immersed in the news about COVID-19. It is helpful to remind your loved one that the information they receive through the news or social media may be sensationalized, negatively skewed, or alarmist. Let your family member know that it is a good idea to choose a few trusted sources for their information about coronavirus and limit their consumption of news on that subject to two or three 30 minute segments a day. Additionally, offer a reminder that going outdoors and getting away from the constant “noise” of TV/radio/smart phones can help keep our mood calm, positive, and focused. If your loved one cannot be outside on their own, they can still sit by an open window and let fresh air into their home. While it is very important to stay informed and take necessary actions to keep ourselves healthy, it is equally important to limit our feelings of fear and hopelessness.

Despite your best efforts to provide emotional support to your loved one and offer advice about limiting media consumption, they may still be lacking a sense of hope during this very difficult period. Sometimes when we feel fearful and hopeless, the reminder of impermanence can actually be comforting. Offer a gentle reminder that many events which feel enduring and unbearable, pass by and become a distant memory. The popular calming mantra “this too shall pass” may be especially uplifting at this time. Even if your loved one does not truly believe it, repeating this mantra should still help ease their stress. Another helpful reminder to share with your loved one is that times of suffering, along with negative feelings, are a normal part of everyone’s lives. What is most important during a dark period like the COVID-19 pandemic is to be kind to others, and especially kind to yourself.

 

Blog By: Lilian Gotlieb, LMSW

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