Stay Connected, Stick To A Routine: Tips On How To Cope During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Mar 20, 2020

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the current coronavirus outbreak, and the disruptions to daily life can take a toll on someone’s mental health.

Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas spokesman Eric Littwiler says clinicians there are, understandably, seeing a lot of cases of anxiety and depression.

"I think people are feeling like the world they’re used to is just shifting underneath their feet," he says, "and that creates that anxiety and creates that depression even for people who haven’t dealt with it in the past."

He says the organization is still doing in-person appointments and recently introduced a video therapy option for people staying home.

Littwiler says one of the best things you can do when so much is changing is to try to maintain your routines as best you can.

"This is not the time to deprive yourself of whatever tools you might need to take care of yourself."

Here are some of his other tips for staying healthy:

Keep up the self-care

"Anything you possibly need from a self-care standpoint, you need to continue doing that," Littwiler says. That means keeping your regular counseling appointments; if you normally go to the gym, find ways to work out at home.

"If you can't go to work anymore, there's nothing you can do about that. What other things can you do?" Littwiler says. "Try to hold on to those pieces of your routine that you're able to."

Do things you enjoy

A silver lining of being homebound? More time to indulge in our hobbies.

Related: Virtual Happenings: The Next Best Thing Being There

"If you've been talking about some recipe you'e been wanting to try for weeks because you really enjoy cooking and never had the chance, maybe now is a good time," he says. "At least find something you enjoy doing and do it.

"Even if it's outside that routine, at least you're doing something you enjoy, something you've been wanting to do, and now you finally have the time."

Social distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation

Whether it's through social media, a text, a phone call, email, or Skype, it's vital to stay connected with friends and family.

"Hold on to the distancing part because it's there for a reason, but the isolation part we need to offset by staying connected to people who are within our support system," Littwiler says.

Even if you aren't feeling lonely, someone else might be — and they'll appreciate the check-in.

Seek help if you need it

Littwiler says an estimated quarter of Americans will need mental health care in a given year — but most won't, or won't know how to, seek it out.

Either "they're simply not aware of mental health resources that are available to them," he says, "or else the stigma is just such that they're too afraid to raise their hand and acknowledge they need help."

He urges anyone experiencing anxiety or depression to reach out to either the Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas or another community organization:

  • The Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas counseling center: 316-652-2590
  • Sedgwick County Comcare: 316-660-7600 (for general information) or 316-660-7540 (to make an appointment)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (call) or 741-741 (text)