Managing your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 9:55 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Stressful times can cause anxiety due to sudden and rapid life changes, like what’s happening during this outbreak of coronavirus. But experts say there are things you can do to get a handle on that stress.

“This pandemic is affecting everyone’s lives. It is forcing changes in people’s routines and for many people, it is affecting their jobs and their income … For many people, this increased stress can exacerbate underlying health conditions. It can bring increased depression and anxiety,” Gov. Ralph Northam said.

He spoke candidly about a serious topic that experts say it’s time to discuss - mental health.

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We don’t know when this will end and how long it will go on,” said Dr. Ananda Pandurangi of VCU Health.

It’s why he says it’s time to recognize if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, and accept that it’s normal. Then he says, you have to find ways to manage it, so it doesn’t get the best of you.

“While we’ve lost a lot of different things such as our ability to work from our usual workplace, we have gained something, a lot of time and we should put that to good use,” Pandurangi added.

He suggests "music and play and gardening and leisure activities. All of these can be done. They are good for mental health. They reduce anxiety."

He also says stay in touch with friends and loves ones.

“Connect with them online, by texting, by phone,” Pandurangi said.

He says social distancing should be thought more of as physical distancing, continuing to interact with others but following the 6-foot distance recommendation.

The governor provided the phone number to a 24-7 national crisis counseling and support line. The number is 1800-985-5990. It’s a resource you can share with others as we all work to get through this together.

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