Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Sheltering in Place

GSEHD professor Delishia Pittman gives tips for maintaining mental health while sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 10, 2020

Delishia Pittman

Delishia Pittman, an assistant professor in GSEHD and a board-certified counseling psychologist, shared tips about how to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy photo.)

The outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for many people.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has presented new challenges to public health including mental health concerns. As people across the country deal with the unique stressors arising from the spread of the disease and social distancing, maintaining good mental health has become a priority. 

Delishia Pittman, an assistant professor of counseling in the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and a board-certified counseling psychologist, shared these tips about how to cope with stress while sheltering in place during the pandemic:

  1. Shower daily

Let's be honest, most of us don’t know what day it is or whether we showered yesterday. But remember, hygiene is selfcare. Showering daily can help you feel refreshed and, during a time when days just roll into each other, can be a helpful reset. 

  1. Eat breakfast

Again, this will help your body maintain its normal rhythm by “turning on” your metabolism, which will help you minimize eating out of boredom. 

  1. Be quarantine cute

At least one day a week, get dressed. Put on real shoes, do your hair, put on makeup, if that is your thing. You may find that any one of these activities helps you feel more connected to your pre-quarantine self. Pick one day a week and do a little something extra for yourself. 

  1. Give where you can 

If you have extra toilet paper, for example, or other household goods to spare, give it to someone in need, like a neighbor (remember to practice social distancing). Also, blood banks are increasingly tapped, if you're healthy and able, consider donating. 

  1. Unplug

Unplug from news, social media, phone, text and email—whatever it is. For some, all the COVID-19 information feels helpful. For others, it feels utterly overwhelming. Today, you might be in one camp and tomorrow the other. Give yourself permission to take a break from one or all of these things. 

  1. Get outside

One in two adults will experience depression in their lifetime, and this level of social isolation is counterproductive for your mental health, especially if you are among the 50 percent of the adult population who experience depression.

Go for a walk, sit in the sunshine, lay in your yard. Thirty minutes of outside time is good for your mental and physical health and is an antidote to cabin fever. But remember to practice social distancing.