COVID-19 and Mental Health
Coping with the stress and anxiety of coronavirus
For those living with celiac disease, stress and anxiety can be a part of everyday life, and at this time, the COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional layer of concern. It is important to validate your emotions during an uncertain time. Every person may respond differently to this situation, but it is important to stay calm, and look for ways to help you and your loved ones cope with these challenges.
Turning uncertainty into proactive action
Many patients with celiac disease may be fearful of their level of risk and exposure to the coronavirus. The best action any patient can take is to follow recommendations from their healthcare team, and do their part to help limit the risk. Once you are empowered with information and facts, you will be able to make the best decisions for your health and safety, and the safety of those around you. Even with a plan, you may still have feelings of anxiety, stress and fear. Here are some ways to help you cope with these feelings:
- Turn off media and news for some time each day. While it is important to stay updated, having the news on all day can be overwhelming. Ensure you have time away from social media and the news so you can take time for yourself, and for your family.
- Develop a plan. If your fears are around the need to prepare your family, take some time to discuss a plan with your loved ones on how to handle the need for quarantine, or supplies, etc. Once you have a plan in place, this may help you feel more at ease.
- If you are unable to leave home, make sure you have a plan to have groceries, medications and other essential items delivered or dropped off. Ask a neighbor that is able to go outside, or utilize social media and online local message boards.
- Being stuck inside for prolonged times can be overwhelming and demotivating. If it helps, set up a schedule to follow for you and your family. Having times set aside for specific activities may help add structure and normalcy back into your day.
- Talk to your healthcare team about any questions you have related to your risk. Many doctors and dietitians are now offering telehealth services. View our listing of telehealth services.
- Seek a mental health professional. Contact your healthcare team to learn if there are any mental health providers they recommend. If you have a mental health provider in mind, call in advance and inquire about the ability to do a visit virtually. The Rome Foundation offers a directory of psychologists that have gastrointestinal expertise.
- Begin a regular stress management practice through the use of relaxation, mindfulness or meditation. The following apps are helpful to create your routine: Smiling Mind, Mindfulness Coach, Buddhify, Headspace, Calm, etc.*
- Try some coping mechanisms to help you de-stress. Whether it is cooking your favorite meal, taking a relaxing bath, or mindful breathing, there are many options you can try.
- Connect with friends and family. There are many ways to connect with others through technology. Take time to check in with your loved ones, with video conferencing, or phone calls.
- If possible, enjoy fresh air while following social distancing recommendations. If you have a backyard, take advantage of some time outdoors. Even if you can’t go outside, try to stay active. There are many online videos you can do at home to keep your body moving. Call your local gym and ask if they recommend or host any online workouts.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
- Call 911
- Visit the Disaster Distress Helplineexternal icon or call 1-800-985-5990 and TTY 1-800-846-8517
- Or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSAexternal icon) website.