Tips for Managing Mental Health

With the increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19, you may be feeling some increased levels of emotional distress. The first step to understanding distress is to recognize if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Increased anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Depressive symptoms (e.g., sadness, feelings of guilt, crying, etc.) that persist and/or intensify
  • Difficulty with focus or concentration accompanied by decreased academic performance
  • A feeling of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future
  • Sudden anger/irritability and disruptive behaviors or noticeable changes in personality
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Isolating or withdrawing from others, fear of going into public situations
  • Unhealthy coping (e.g., increased alcohol or drug use, engaging in risky/impulsive behaviors)

If you recognize any of these symptoms, you may want to reach out for support from those around you. It’s important to feel that you have a safe place to be able to talk about these important issues and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to talk to those around you; they may be experiencing the same emotions.

  • Here are tips to help you manage emotional distress:
  • Allow yourself time to reflect on what you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties about the future.
  • Maintain your day-to-day normal activities and social outlets. Resist withdrawing and isolating yourself from the support and caring that others can provide. 
  • Seek accurate information from the UM-Flint COVID-19 page, the Michigan Health and Human Services Department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Try to limit exposure to social media and news reports that provide no new information.
  • Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening.
  • Reach out to friends and family and learn about available campus resources. If you or someone you know has high distress, talk about it with others or come to UM-Flint Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). We are here to help.

Here are tips to keep yourself healthy and at a lower risk of being exposed to illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
  • Clean and disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching commonly used surfaces in public places like elevator buttons, door handles and handrails and avoid handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.