• According to recent data from Healthline and YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker, Americans are reporting significant and sustained increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • People with preexisting health conditions reported higher rates of fear and anxiety.
  • The number of people reporting these symptoms are well above historical norms.
  • Experts caution that spotting symptoms of mental health issues could be especially challenging given the current environment of stay-at-home orders and physical distancing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken everyone into a whirlwind of guidelines, many of which have led to uncertainty, stress, and fear, especially for a lot of patients who have preexisting health issues such as pulmonary fibrosis. According to research presented on Healthline Media, Americans have been reporting an overall increase in pressure on their mental health, while people with preexisting health issues have also reported higher rates of fear and anxiety. Why is this? The truth is, so much of what we have been doing since March has been full of the unknown. In the midst of all of this, it is unsurprising that mental health needs are also spiking for many.

Mental health resources for those experiencing feelings of depression and/or anxiety:

Given the constantly changing circumstances that patients can experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that we are all in this together, even on our “bad” days. According to data, here are some resources for coping with the mental health changes that so many are going through.

Speak with a therapist

Many therapists are now shifting their practices to online platforms in order to allow for clients to regularly be seen via computer or smartphone. In these unprecedented times, gaining additional support from a mental health professional can help individuals feel better mentally. Not sure where to find the right professional to help you? Check out sources like the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator, which can help you narrow down your search.

Be patient with yourself and others

This pandemic is a new experience for all of us, and no one should expect to get everything “right.” Activities such as grocery shopping, working, and even interacting with others have all shifted, impacting everyone differently. Many individuals may be experiencing natural emotions coming out. Taking the time to process these emotions without judgment can be very powerful and helpful in keeping up with mental health needs.

Remember to breathe

Taking the time to step aside and take a deep breath amidst uncertain circumstances is a way to really allow for individuals to find solitude. It’s easy to do and takes no time at all – simply get comfortable, either lying on your bed in bed with a pillow under your head and knees or sitting in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair. Then, breathe in through your nose, allowing for your belly to fill with air. Breathe out through your nose, feeling your belly lower. Repeat three times, breathing fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath. This exercise will do wonders in relaxing the body and creating a sense of calmness.

Stay active if you can

With many people with preexisting health conditions, including pulmonary fibrosis, feeling stuck in their homes, finding some time to exercise and stay active can be very beneficial for improving stress levels and overall mood. Even just doing “laps” and walking around the house or backyard or organizing a drawer or two can help! If you are looking for more inspiration, check out YouTube for some suggestions on activities to keep you moving.

Set a routine for yourself

Routine is very important for all of us, especially during times of quarantine when individuals face stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Setting a simple daily schedule and following it regularly can help upkeep mental health. For example, setting a wake-up time, a morning goal, afternoon goal, and one or two activities throughout the day can help keep us on track both physically and mentally. Depending on individual needs, the routine can be even more simplified–even just starting with a wake-up time and a single activity per day is a great beginning!

Get social

Even though you can’t make physical contact with loved ones, there are other ways to stay connected! Socializing with family or friends via FaceTime, Zoom, or through online platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, is a great way to feel in-touch through times that can have mental effects on the body.

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