Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended social distancing to slow the spread of infection. Oregonians will spend more time at home as a result which can have negative consequences on mental health. Mental health experts are providing information about how to combat feelings of isolation with social distancing precautions.
“Isolation is generally not good for your mental health,“ says Dr. Dan Bristow, M.D., President of the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association. Bristow adds, “There are ways you can feel less isolated and stay socially supported during these uncertain times.” Bristow offers the following tips during times of social distancing.
1. Try to keep a regular routine as much as possible. While your routine will be different compared to before, you can still set a routine that keeps your day organized and focused. Have a regular schedule for work or study. Take breaks and eat meals at regular times. Try to maintain the same sleep schedule. Consistency helps structure your day and gets you acclimated to the new routine quicker.
2. Stay as active as possible. This might mean getting outside for regular walks. If that’s not possible, regular stretching, yoga, and meditation are options to help your body and mind feel its best.
3. Limit social media and use reliable sources of information. Scrolling social media feeds habitually tends to not help you feel connected or boost your mood. Social media can also spread misinformation that does not help you stay accurately informed. Stick with reliable sources of information (eg, www.cdc.gov).
4. Stay in contact with friends and family. While open-ended social media use might not help you stay connected, using social media to communicate with loved ones can be very uplifting. Emailing, phoning, or video calls can help you stay connected to friends and family. Good social support can boost mood and prevent feelings of isolation.
5. Be flexible and realistic about the time it takes to adjust. Adjusting to your new routine will take time. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Don’t expect to be as productive immediately in your work or studies from home.
Due to recommendations for social distancing, Dr. Bristow will be available for interviews by video conferencing March 17, 2020 via GoToMeeting. Video links are available at the time of interview scheduling.
Dan Bristow, M.D.
President - Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association