Protecting Your Mental Health in a Second Wave

As winter approaches, scientists warn that a second wave of COVID-19 is on the way. When the weather is dry and cold, the virus may be more stable, resulting in higher rates of transmission. Experts have also expressed concern that a second wave of mental health issues may be on the horizon as well. Today, we’ll give you some tips for protecting your emotional wellbeing in the months ahead.


Remember What You’ve Learned

(Un)fortunately, none of us are strangers to COVID-19 lockdown. Back in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, we learned a lot about ourselves. Specifically, about how we handle the stresses of being stuck at home. We can take those lessons and equip ourselves for a second wave. We encourage you to write down everything you can remember about March, April and May. Which tasks were the most challenging? What was the most helpful coping mechanism you had? Did you enjoy virtual AA or NA meetings when you felt stressed, or were phone calls with family members your favorite way to connect with others? This reflection can help you to prepare for the pandemic.


Consider Your Unique Needs and Coping Mechanisms

Everyone handles crisis in a different way. Some people may want to run out their frustrations in the gym, while others can only address their anxiety by meditating. The most common types of adaptive coping mechanisms are…

  • Support – Avoiding isolation and seeking social support can be incredibly helpful in processing emotions and getting through stressful events.
  • Humor – Laughing at a troubling situation can help you to stay positive and maintain perspective, keeping the situation from feeling overwhelming.
  • Relaxation – Meditation, sitting in nature and progressive muscle relaxation are just a few ways that you can relax during the second wave.
  • Problem-solving – By finding potential solutions to your situation, you can overcome stress and avoid feeling lost or directionless.
  • Physical activity – Exercise releases endorphins, which makes it an incredibly healthy and natural form of stress relief.

Be on the lookout for maladaptive coping mechanisms: stress responses which are bad for your mental health and wellbeing. These include escapism (isolating from others), unhealthy self-soothing, substance abuse, numbing behaviors, compulsions, risk-taking and self-harm.


Be Proactive & Don’t Get Complacent

To keep yourself and your family safe in the months ahead, it is vital to remain alert about the risks of COVID-19. Stay aware of national and local guidance from organizations like the CDC and WHO. Don’t be lax about social distancing, hand hygiene, large gatherings or mask wearing. Additionally, do what you can to prepare for another round of lockdowns or potential illness. We all remember the shortage of toilet paper and cleaning supplies at the beginning of the pandemic, which was caused by a sudden rush on grocery stores. Instead of panicking at the last minute, pick up necessary medications, an extra bottle of hand sanitizer or a few rolls of toilet paper as needed. Finally, do what you can to make life at home more comfortable in the event of a second wave. Purchase some puzzles, cards, board games – whatever will help you pass the time. Being aware and prepared is empowering.


Don’t Get Caught Up in Doomscrolling During the Second Wave

“Doomscrolling” is a new term for the endless scroll through social media. People with this habit fall into deep rabbit holes of coronavirus content, reading an endless stream of news and updates for hours at a time, often in the middle of the night. This habit can erode your mental health and destroy any hope of a good night’s sleep. Doomscrollers are in a search for answers – however, we just don’t have easy solutions right now. A quick online search will turn up a collection of conflicting “facts” in a constantly shifting landscape. Instead of making you feel better, this can compound any stress and anxiety you already feel. Try to restrict your phone use to a certain amount of time each day. If you find yourself feeling worse afterwards, consider doing a tech detox: spending a week without social media.


Make Self-Care a Priority

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the first round of lockdowns, it’s that self-care is key. As we’ve previously discussed, this term doesn’t just refer to taking bubble baths and lighting scented candles. Taking good care of yourself – body and mind – is what we recommend. Avoid turning to stockpiles of junk food or a sedentary lifestyle. Instead, find a way to stay active and prioritize proper nutrition. Additionally, be sure that you have a solid routine in place. A proper sleep schedule can boost your mood; so will regular contact with your friends and family. These small steps can go a long way toward protecting your mental health in a second wave.


Anxious About a Second Wave? Cumberland Heights is Here for You

We know that the threat of a second wave can provoke stress, anxiety and fear of relapse. Our team of addiction specialists is here to support you, in person and virtually. At Cumberland Heights, our services can be adapted to each person’s individual needs. For more information about our mental health and addiction services, please contact us today.