The unprecedented circumstances created by COVID-19 have brought about a great deal of stress and uncertainty for individuals and communities. Luckily, there are a number of strategies we can use to help maintain our mental well-being. On Wednesday, October 14, Greg Fricchione, MD, associate chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, spoke about how to decrease stress and boost resiliency during the pandemic. Here are some strategies from his lecture.

5 Mental Health Tips

  1. Seek out and maintain your attachments. The most important component—your environment of evolutionary adaptedness is secure attachment! The pandemic is a huge separation challenge to your brain. Find attachment solutions whenever you can. This will decrease the stress of uncertainty and attune you to what is healing in your life
  2. Maintain commitment to your values. Enhance attention to your “eulogy” values, not so much on your “resume” values. This means emphasizing mindful presence with your loved ones and taking advantage of the time you shelter in place to truly experience those around you. Family values include parental efforts to reduce child distress and maintain family cohesion and optimism. This also includes providing children with activities that reduce their anxiety and, as much as possible, highlighting the secure attachment you offer them as a loving parent
  3. Try to emphasize collective efficacy in family and community life. You can’t do it alone. See your efforts to contain viral spread as a sacrifice in the service of your community, and make this explicit in conversation with your children
  4. Practice stress reduction and resilience enhancement. Find an app or a virtual or web-based program that can help you promote your own well-being and even use this experience to make yourself less fragile and susceptible to future stressors
  5. Practice healthy lifestyle habits and avoid the trap of maladaptive behaviors and seek professional help when needed. When toxic stress takes hold, take action and avoid the slide into stress-related illness