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Dr. Chico Provides Tips for Mental Health

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By:

Laura Tenbus

April 23, 2020
*This is a rapidly changing situation. This article was written on April 9, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov*

The word “unprecedented” may seem overused when referring to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but that is because it is one of the most accurate words to describe the situation. There truly hasn’t been anything like this in our lifetimes, and the uncertainty is putting a strain on many people’s mental health. While each person copes differently, there are a number of steps we can take to maintain our mental health and wellness. Dr. Anthony Chico, Chief, Emergency Psychiatry at GBMC, spoke with 98 Rock hosts, Justin, Scott, and Spiegel, to provide advice for those struggling with their mental health.

#1: Establish a routine

“Many of us thrive on predictability,” said Dr. Chico, “establishing a sense normalcy can help alleviate the stress of uncertainty.” Even small things can help you gain back a sense of control. Create a routine that you follow every morning to help start your day and schedule activities that you enjoy. Carving out time to go on a walk every day or having a dedicated playtime with your kids can make all the difference in the world.

#2: Maintain healthy habits

When your physical health declines, your mental health can follow. Continue (or start!) exercising, eating a balanced diet, and making sure you have a set sleep schedule. Don’t stop your medications – whether they are for mental health or not – and stay in touch with your care team.

#3: Stay connected

“Social distancing is not the same thing as isolation,” explained Dr. Chico. We have more ways to connect with each other than ever before and now is the time to take advantage of that. “Under regular circumstances,” said Dr. Chico, “those with mental health issues struggle by themselves, but now everyone is experiencing this situation together.” Lean on your family and friends for support when you need it.

#4: Think positively

When you think positively, you can find the silver linings in this situation. Time is a commodity, especially in our busy society, and most people now have more of it than they ever have before. Use it to deepen your relationships or start the hobby you always wanted to learn but never got around to. This is an extremely challenging time, but looking for the good things in life can help take the edge off and bring you some happiness.

Dr. Chico also addressed the challenges of transitioning back to normal life and the lasting effects of the trauma this pandemic may have caused.

While these tips are helpful for reducing anxiety, they may not be enough for everyone. If you're having intrusive thoughts that won't go away or are having trouble getting through your day, it may be time to seek help. Don't discount your own feelings and don't be ashamed to reach out to a professional. Many therapists and psychiatrists are offering telephone or video sessions so that people can access them from home and stay safe. Crisis resources are also available if you need immediate help. The Maryland Crisis Hotline can be reached by dialing 211.

*Click here for more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)*
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