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Maintaining Good Mental Health

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Coping during stressful or uncertain times

It is very common, in fact quite normal, for individuals to experience waves of emotions during stressful situations or uncertain times. The election, the global pandemic, and social unrest are all adding to a sense of uncertainty in our lives. Maintaining balance by planning ahead, keeping calm, and preventing harm from overconsumption of news will be an important tool in navigating these challenging times.

It will also be important to acknowledge that news reports and discussions with family and friends regarding these issues, especially the election and outcome, may bring about some strong emotional or physical reactions.

Everyone is unique in their response because of personal history, beliefs, outlook, support system, health status and coping strategies.

Helpful suggestions for you to try:

  • Remember that whatever happens with the election, life will go on. Avoid catastrophizing and maintain a balanced perspective.
  • Channel your concerns into making a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group.
  • Avoid discussions about the election if you think they might produce conflict. If you decide to discuss politics, don’t do it with the intent to convince anyone. Instead, do it to better understand a differing opinion. Make the conversation about curiosity and friendly debate, not persuasion.
  • Reflection and perspective can be powerful tools in understanding the process of our own emotions as well as those of others. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal or express them through other forms of art or creative outlets.
  • Press pause and take time to disconnect from watching the news or accessing social media sites; these can become overwhelming; instead, take time to breathe and be present in the moment. Check out apps like Calm and Headspace.
  • Take care of yourself physically: eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and hydrate throughout the day.
  • Try your best to engage in some form of physical activity each day to help relieve the extra nervous energy you might be feeling. Even vacuuming, raking leaves, or a quick walk around your house can help.
  • Sometimes, when our thoughts become overwhelming, professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary.

Staying calm during the coronavirus pandemic

What can I do if I’m feeling stressed or anxious?

  • Plan ahead. Make sure you have adequate supplies at home and plans for childcare and working from home, if that is what you are doing.
  • Establish routines and schedules. Do you have kids who are home from school? Consider drawing up and posting a daily schedule, with times for learning, play, exercise, chores and other items.
  • Practice mindfulness by focusing on things within your control, such as your daily routine, and things in your life that are positive, such as family or friends.
  • Exercise . Take walks and get fresh air. Build this into your daily schedule at regular intervals.
  • Incorporate joy into your schedule too! Play with your kids or a pet. Listen to music. Watch a funny movie.
  • Eat a healthy diet .
  • Limit media exposure and stay informed with trusted sources.
  • Get adequate sleep and limit screen time before bed.
  • Remember it’s normal to feel anxious during stressful times. Be kind to yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.

Hallmarks of Self-Care

Coping strategies during COVID-19

In a time of crisis, there are proven steps that can help us work through the uncertainties and distress we are experiencing. Here are a few from WellSpan EAP (Employee Assistance Program): 

Acknowledge and speak up when you are stressed.

Research has shown that talking about your concerns helps remove them and is far better than trying to ignore, deny,  or suppress the natural feelings we all share. No matter who you are, the common denominator is that we are all human, and we will feel heightened stress during this time. Acknowledging it opens the gate for us to do something about it.

Rely on a few trusted sources for information.

Think: CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Limit searches on Google.

But limit your exposure to information.

Over-consumption of social media, national media and local media coverage of COVID-19 can consume you and create depleted energy and even more distress.

Stay connected with others.

You may have to work harder at this as you adhere to the Pennsylvania Department of Health restrictions social distancing, but this one is huge. Virtual interactions count!

Take care of your own basic needs.

You need fuel for the mind and body. Eat nutritious food, hydrate and try to get enough sleep.

Keep up your daily routine as much as you can.

Routine is key – whether your usual one or a new one you create! Routine helps you maintain a sense of normalcy that can dramatically reduce stress. It might require some creative thinking, but this is vital for you in your work and for your family at home.

Take breaks, breathe, slow down with intention and set limits.

We must remember to step away from our work. Take a time out even if it’s for a minute or two. To slow down, and be present, will help slow what may seem like a chaotic, stressful experience.


Stand up and be active and exercise in whatever way you can, even in small increments. Get outside and take a walk, get some fresh air, look at the clouds, breathe deeply.

Focus on what you can control.

Be present and in the moment. Avoid the “what ifs.” Psychologists call this catastrophizing or running worst-case scenarios in our heads. This behavior will only create more distress.


Watch a funny movie, YouTube video or anything that tickles your funny bone. Laughter is good food for the soul. Laughter is an essential part of the coping equation during an emotionally charged time.

Coping with COVID-19: What's Next?

Part 1: I'm OK. (Am I OK?)


Part 2: The 4 M's of Mental Health


Part 3: Supporting Our Children’s Emotional Well-Being


Part 3a: Supporting Our Children’s Emotional Well-Being: Connection, Independence and Structure


Coping Strategies: Hallmarks of Self-Care

Video tips with Mike Diller, PsyD, Director of WellSpan Health Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Listen in for simple, proven coping strategies for taking care of your mental and emotional health during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Be encouraged! We are here for you. We are all in this together.

Healthcare providers seeking Continuing Medical Education can log in to CloudCME to view this presentation. Look for education under the COVID-19 or Wellness tile.

..Coping Strategies for the COVID-19 Crisis: 
Hallmarks of Self-Care Part 1: Introduction


Coping Strategies for the COVID-19 Crisis:
Hallmarks of Self-Care Part 2: Staying Connected



Coping Strategies for the COVID-19 Crisis:
Hallmarks of Self-Care Part 3: Three Tips to Keep You Grounded


Coping Strategies for the COVID-19 Crisis: 
Hallmarks of Self-Care Part 4: Three Keys to Self-Care



Coping Strategies for the COVID-19 Crisis: 
Hallmarks of Self-Care Part 5: Watch What You’re Watching – Limit Media


Accessing care

Are you or a loved one struggling to manage stress, anxiety or depression? We are here to help. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-932-0359.

Click here for the latest information on WellSpan Philhaven services and visitor access changes.

For mental health emergencies, call your county's Crisis Intervention.

Click here for updates on access to services and visitation policy at WellSpan Philhaven.

Click here for updates on the coronavirus pandemic from WellSpan Health.