Mental Health & Self-Care in the Pandemic – Presence Cares Series(4)

Lily Ma

According to a report from the CDC (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention) and other major healthcare organizations, the outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered the risk for more widespread mental health issues. KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation – an American non-profit organization that focuses on major health care issues facing the nation) conducted a survey in late March (see Figure 1). Nearly half of the people under shelter-in-place orders reported having negative emotions related to COVID-19. Even among those not sheltering-in-place, there are still 37% experiencing the negative impact of COVID-19 on their emotional health. I personally came across a good amount of people with anxiety and depression symptoms since the outbreak of the pandemic. Needless to say, the negative impact on those who have long been suffering from mental health issues is inevitable.

If you have questions about whether you or your family members are suffering from mental health issues, you may want to consider taking the free online screening (link below) provided by MHA (Mental Health America), for your reference: https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools

Besides getting psychiatric treatment or pyscho-therapies, there are some other good ways to find relief that can help when coping with mild mental health issues. Even just for building a balanced and healthy life, these are all helpful tips.

1. Exercising – besides being beneficial to one’s physical health, exercise has been proven to boost one’s mood by helping your body to release more endorphins. People call exercising a natural antidepressant.

2. Sunlight – studies show that the brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin on sunny days. Lack of serotonin is linked to the development of depression. Taking a walk on a sunny day will definitely be soothing and mood-lifting.

3. Sleep – disrupted or inadequate sleep will lead to increased tension, vigilance and irritability. Good sleeping habits and enough sleep will help lift a depressed mood.

4. Avoiding alcohol, drugs & caffeine – alcohol and drugs interfere with mood, sleep and motivation. Caffeine can also trigger anxiety and make it difficult to sleep at night.

5. Diet & vitamins – strive for a balanced diet, with special attention to the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. These two elements are both important for mood stabilizing and brain functioning. 

Other than the tips listed above, care and support from family and friends is also the key to emotional health.

Please refer to Presence Family Magazine Issue No.6 if you are interested in learning more about depression. Part of the content was taken from the article “Natural Ways of Fighting Depression” in that issue.

Also, Presence has educational resources on “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” in Mandarin and in Cantonese, to help people with mild depression cope by adjusting their thinking.

Other sources or references:

https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731


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