Dr. Omerine Aseh shares 10 tips for protecting your mental health after a positive COVID-19 test.
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In addition to caring for your body when you get a positive COVID-19 test, you should pay attention to your mental health. This is important for your overall well-being because it can affect how you think, feel, act and relate to others. Getting a positive COVID-19 test can cause you to feel afraid and anxious, and it can affect your ability to sleep, focus or concentrate properly. It can also be stressful to be separated from others, recover alone or end your in-home isolation. The stress can affect family members who live with you, especially your kids or those who have a history of anxiety or depression. It is important to know that you are not alone; this is normal and coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, your family and your community stronger.
Some common symptoms of anxiety related to COVID-19 include:
- Fear and worry about your own health, the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Increased smoking, drinking or use of other drugs
Here are 10 ways to help you or someone cope mentally. Remember that, although helping your family or community can be therapeutic, it should be balanced with caring for yourself.
- Make a daily schedule. Having a routine will give you a sense of control and help you feel better even if you do not stick to it 100 percent of the time. We suggest that you start the day with three affirmations and end the day with writing in a gratitude journal.
- Make a list of things that make you happy (music, drawing, coloring, etc.) and have family members or your support system make this available to you. This will help you when you have a bad day.
- Expect a bad day. You will have ups and downs, and this is normal.
- Keep in touch with a health-care professional (use telehealth services) or call ahead before you go to the office.
- Keep track of your emotions each day. Paying attention to how you feel will help you be more attentive to your emotional state and will help you seek help from others or a mental-health specialist sooner.
- Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and can cause catastrophic thinking.
- Take care of your body and exercise regularly. (Put this on your schedule.)
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and avoid excessive alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Connect with others–your family, church or community–by phone, social media or mail.
If you have any pre-existing mental-health condition like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder your symptoms could get worse. Call your mental-health provider if stress gets in the way of doing your daily activities for several days in a row.
Dr. Omerine Aseh is a board-certified physician recognized by Forbes magazine and a leading authority on anxiety and wellness. Through her telemental health practice YouFirst: Anxiety & Wellness Center, she helps women understand and overcome anxiety so that they can sleep better, cope with daily stress and have the energy they need to design a life with no boundaries. After close to a decade in the practice of medicine, she has treated more than 20,000 patients. Her mantra is, “Thrive Regardless.” If you wish to connect with Aseh, please book a free strategy call at youfirsttelemedicine.com.