Emily Helmboldt, M.S., BCBA, LBA, LPC, is a technical assistance coordinator and faculty member with the Autism Center of Excellence at the Research, Rehabilitation and Training Center at VCU. She earned a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from VCU Health and is licensed as a professional counselor. Below are her Top Five Tips for Maintaining Mental Health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Positive self-talk.
Catch yourself if you start seeing everything negatively. Reassure yourself that things will get better, that you're doing everything you're supposed to do and you'll come out of this whole.
2. Get outside and exercise.
Being outside and exercising are both researched and proven to improve mental health status. Exercise increases levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and improves plasticity. It can be a simple walk, just something.Headshot of Emily Helmboldt. [View Image] [View Image]Emily Helmboldt
3. Limit news and social media.
Take control over the negative. You don't have to listen to the news all the time nor stay glued to social media. Too much social media has been linked to depression and anxiety. Watch something humorous instead – a comedy or cat videos. Humor can increase serotonin levels.
4. Utilize meditation and mindfulness.
Even if you have little time to do so. Try a mindful app, take three deep, slow breaths while thinking of a positive intention, engage in a yoga sequence. It's easy and it decreases anxiety.
5. Connect with others.
On any level. Humans are social animals. We need each other. While being socially isolated out of necessity, reach out to a friend or family member, say hello, use any means – phone, FaceTime, videoconference, or even text. This may not be perfect, but it does satisfy our need for some level of connection.