Mental health during COVID-19: Tips from a licensed clinical social worker

A mental health expert offers advice on methods for easing the mind and reducing anxiety.

Mental health during COVID-19: Tips from a licensed clinical social workerHow to manage anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Consuming the news is necessary right now to stay informed about COVID-19. But for many, the overconsumption of media can also be a source of stress and anxiety. In times of uncertainty, feelings of unease are a normal response. It’s important to set aside some time to focus on your mental well-being.

While you’re at home more, seek out coping strategies that work for you and make your mental health a priority. If you’re struggling to ease your mind, there are many resources available to help. It’s important to remember there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health. Finding what helps you and your particular circumstances will take some trial and error.

Methods to help ease the mind and reduce anxiety

“If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, trust me, you’re not alone,” said licensed clinical social worker Sandra Taveras. “I recommend my patients try one of the following tips to help cope with anxiety and stress.”

1. Schedule some media-free time. Whether you watch the news, scroll through Instagram or listen to the radio, it’s COVID-19 all the time right now. For many people, this can be quite overwhelming. While it’s important to stay informed on the latest public health directives and updates — for example, masks are now required when you leave the house — being constantly bombarded by negative messages can take a toll on your disposition. Set aside some time where you turn off your cell phone, step away from the news and do something that relaxes you. Read, meditate, practice yoga, listen to music or use aromatherapy. Stepping back from the headlines will help with managing anxiety. Just breathe.

2. Use grounding tools. Grounding yourself can help you stay in the moment when you’re having difficulty with racing thoughts and worries. Before you start this exercise, pay attention to your breathing; slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, follow these steps:

Identify and name five things you see around you — a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.Identify four things you can touch around you, and feel them — your hair, a pillow or even the ground under your feet.Identify and name three things you hear. This can be any external sound. If you hear your belly rumbling, that counts, but try to focus on noises outside of your body.Identify two things you can smell and give them a sniff. Maybe you are in your home or office and smell tea in a cup, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell recently washed laundry. If you need to take a brief walk to find two scents, you could smell soap in your bathroom, or the fresh air outside.Identify one thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like — gum, coffee or the sandwich from lunch?Focusing on your breaths can help you achieve a sense of calm.

3. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Yes, a lot of people have turned to alcohol to help cope with this stressful time, but this is actually a harmful coping mechanism. Alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety and be a contributing factor to a panic attack. So, cut back on the coffee and the cocktails and instead stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

4. Get enough sleep and try to eat healthy. We know for some it’s difficult right now to sleep, but getting at least seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night can decrease anxiety because when your body is stressed, it needs additional rest. It’s also important to eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy meals can help boost your immune system and fuel your brain — and don’t forget to take your vitamins.

5. Try and think positive. At times it may seem impossible to think positively, especially when you feel anxious and overwhelmed by worry, but it is possible. Try to focus on the good things around you. Practice positive affirmations, empowering self-talk and gratitude. Keep focusing on what is important to you.

Remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious and worried during times like these. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try following these steps to help reduce your anxiety and be sure to make your mental health a priority.

Talk to a professional if you need to

If you’re having a difficult time dealing with the distress of COVID-19, there are professional resources available. It’s OK to reach out for help when you need it.


New York State Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Line: 844-863-9314. This line offers free and confidential support, 24/7.Crisis Text Line: Text GOT5 to 741741. This anonymous texting service is available 24/7.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5590. Provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress.National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233). Advocates are available 24/7 to talk with anyone who is experiencing domestic violence, looking for information or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255). If your life or someone else's is in imminent danger, please call 911.

Crystal Run Healthcare, supporting your mental and physical health

Crystal Run Healthcare is focused on both your physical and mental health during this time. We have psychiatrists and psychologists on staff to address all of your mental health needs. To assure your safety, and that of our staff, we’ve implemented telehealth video visits. Now you can schedule an appointment with a mental health professional right from the comfort of your own home. Visit our website to learn more about telehealth virtual video visits.

At Crystal Run Healthcare, we’re committed to our patients during this trying time. Whether you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms and need to call our coronavirus hotline (845-643-3909) or you need an appointment with one of your physicians, we’re here for you now and in the future.

Please continue to do your part to help keep yourself and others safe during this time: wear a mask when you’re in public, maintain at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and other people, only leave the house for essential reasons, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. Thank you for your help in keeping yourself and others healthy.

To learn more about Crystal Run Healthcare, visit and follow the practice on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


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