Peer COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Guide

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COVID-19 & Mental Health


Contents Important things to keep in mind 4 Manage your expectations 6 Be compassionate with yourself & others 8 Body Positivity 11

Positively Coping with Stress 20 Know your red flags 22 Routine is your friend 24 Manage uncertainty by staying in the present 25 Maintain Connections 26

Proactively Managing Stress by Prioritizing Self-Care 12 Sleep 14 Breathing & Meditation 15 Stretching 16

Boundaries 27 Recognize and react when you start feeling cooped up 28 Talk it out 29

Campus Health & Wellbeing Resources 30

Regular exercise 17 Eat healthy, well-balanced meals 18 Avoid alcohol & drugs 19

WRITTEN BY

Cal Poly Students, for Cal Poly Students DESIGNED BY

Von Balanon



Important things to keep in mind

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Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and there is no right or wrong way to be feeling right now. Because the state of the world is changing day-to-day, it’s normal for emotions and perspectives to also change rapidly. Practice compassion as everyone’s life is being affected in different ways creating different fears, worries, and disappointments. Those with preexisting mental health conditions should continue their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

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Manage your expectations A pandemic brings a cognitive and emotional strain that can drastically impact productivity, at least in the short-term. It’s completely normal, and even expected, to have difficulty concentrating, to experience a lack of motivation, and to feel distracted; adapting to this new situation takes time. It’s important to go easy on yourself and keep your goals and productivity standards realistic, rather than raising your expectations thinking more time should result in greater productivity.

Tips on Managing Expectations During COVID-19:

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Start with a clean slate: Be honest with yourself. Take a moment to consider if the expectations you have for yourself right now are coming from you or an external source.

Acknowledge where you are right now in has created many new obstacles and cha mentally, emotionally, and physically.

There’s a lot of messaging on social media about how you should be using this time in quarantine, but keep in mind that a lot of it may not be realistic or healthy and is not a beneficial expectation for you to hold yourself to.

Before creating an expectation for yourself, ma affecting you.


n life: COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place allenges that will impact where you are

ake sure you’ve considered how COVID-19 is

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Keep your expectations fluid: Life circumstances will change (often!). Sometimes your goals will need to change as life presents new challenges, and that’s okay! COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place affects people in different ways at different times. Be gentle with yourself and allow expectations to be flexible.

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Be compassionate with yourself & others Anxiety is a natural response to a high stress situation. So too are a variety of emotions and thoughts we may not know what to do with. For most of us this experience is unprecedented, and there is no right or wrong way to feel about it.

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Here are some ways to practice self-compassion: PAY ATTENTION to YOUR LANGUAGE. What words do you use to speak to yourself? Sometimes we get so used to self-critique that we stop noticing it. Try to replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations while also acknowledging where those negative thoughts are coming from and why. Just a few examples of affirmations are: “I’m doing the best that I can do,” “Mistakes are proof that I’m learning & improving,” “My best is good enough,” “I deserve to be loved because I love myself.” It’s important to pick affirmations that feel believable and resonate with you.

PICK SOME go-to COMPASSIONATE PHRASES for yourself so that when you catch those negative thoughts popping into your head, you have something to replace them with.

GIVE YOURSELF physical COMFORT. Just as a hug or shoulder squeeze from someone you love can release tension, physical gestures from ourselves can also provide comfort. This can be something as simple as lightly squeezing your own arm. Physical touch helps pull us out of our minds and get back into our bodies and the present moment.

THINK ABOUT how you would treat SOMEONE ELSE if they were feeling exactly as you are. If you wouldn’t say, do, or critique certain things with someone else you care about, why should you be an exception? This is easier said than done but know that you deserve all that love and compassion too.

Check out this website for some great self-compassion exercises and guided meditations: self-compassion. org/category/exercises/#guidedmeditations

Just as we deserve a little extra self-compassion right now, others deserve that too. Whether shelterin-place has made people in your life a little more distant, irritable, inconsistent, or, conversely, attentive, try to see where they are coming from and open dialogue about how they are experiencing shelter-in-place.

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Body Positivity With all this extra time, we’re seeing more fitness pressure on social media, so it’s important to check in with your relationship with your body and prioritize your wellbeing. Here’s some ways to practice body positivity while staying at home. Make sure to use kind words when describing yourself and your body. Social media cleanse: unfollow accounts that don’t align with body positive ideas. Practice verbally thanking your body for all it does for you. Find an accountability buddy to support your goals. Spend time journaling about your relationship with your body.

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Proactively Managing Str by Prioritizing Self-Care

With so many new challenges and life situations (COVID-19, sheltering-in-place, online classes, unemployment, fear for one’s safe moving back in with family, etc.), it’s completely normal to experience heightened levels of stress over the next few months. While many things are out of your control right now, there are things that you can do to proactively manage your stress levels and take ca wellbeing by prioritizing different aspects of self-care. While there are numerous ways to practice self-care, and individuals have different preferences for what works best for them, the following content is designed as an overarching framework that can be tailored to fit you and your current needs

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ress

ety & health, it may feel like are of your overall

s.

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Sleep Sleep is an important aspect of your wellbeing (especially during the coronavirus pandemic). Quality sleep fosters mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Some of sleep’s benefits are particularly helpful during the pandemic, including boosting your immune system, improving your mood, and reducing stress. Sleep is also when your brain stores long term memories which means adequate sleep is critical to retaining the information you’ve been learning in your classes and the material you’ve been studying

The pandemic has created and increased barriers to quality sleep for many individuals. Sleep hygiene habits may promote your quality of sleep. Improving sleep may take time,

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so don’t give up. Adjust these tips as needed to accommodate yourself and your situation. Create a daily routine including time for sleep: Setting a routine may help to create a sense of normalcy. Additionally, a consistent sleep schedule will help your body find a rhythm between sleep and wake, improving the quality of your sleep and your overall health. It is best to keep your bedtime and wakeup time within two hours of the regular times. Reserve your bed for sleep: Avoid studying or watching tv (or Zooming into class) in bed in order to help your brain associate your bed as a place for sleep. If you have the option, study and attend online classes in another area of your room or place of residence. Use lighting to your advantage: During the day, open blinds and spend some time outside to soak up natural light. Exposure to sunlight helps your body maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Try to avoid device usage 15-30 minutes before going to bed. The blue

light emitted from a phone or laptop screen prevents your brain from releasing melatonin — the hormone that tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. Use naps wisely: Being home all day may make it easier to nap often. Napping 20-30 minutes seems to be universally helpful, but over-napping or napping too late in the afternoon can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle. Exercise Regularly: If you can safely walk outside and/or exercise inside, regular physical activity will improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and increase alertness during the day. Practice kindness to yourself and others: Adjusting to online classes and other changes may come with difficulties, so your mental and physical health may not be what you expected right now. Be patient with yourself and others. Be mindful of these changes and prioritize your health and happiness. For more visit: www.sleepfoundation.org/ sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation


Breathing & Meditation INCORPORATE intentional breathing EXERCISES THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY. Different types of breathing work for different people, so try to go into this practice with an open mind and try multiple techniques. There are a few different breathing techniques you can access here: www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/08/try-thesesimple-breathing-exercises-to-calm-yourself-down/

TRY A simple BODY SCAN. Lay horizontally if you can and close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Take a single, deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and key into where your body is and how it is positioned. How does it feel? Now focus in on individual body parts and how each of those feel. Start with one side of your body, with each of your toes, then your whole foot, then continuing until you reach your head. You can also look up guided body scans online.

LISTEN to your ENVIRONMENT. Close your eyes and key into the noise around you. Try to separate sounds from each other and notice when different sounds start and stop. Explore how these sounds make you feel. Try to take deep and steady breaths while you listen.

MEDITATE. Meditation can seem very daunting at first, but regular practice has so many benefits that it is worth trying for yourself. Start small with 2-3-minute meditations and be patient with yourself. Guided meditations are a great place to start and there are numerous places to find these: YouTube, Apps (Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer etc.), or various meditation & mindfulness focused websites. This is a little longer of a meditation, but the accompanying article has some really great tips for starting your practice: www. mindful.org/a-guided-meditation-for-gathering-your-energy/

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Stretching Stretching is a great way to release tension and relax tight muscles. With everyone staying home more and having a more sedentary lifestyle, stretching becomes that much more important. If you can, stretch outside and think about how your body feels when you stretch. Focus on upper body stretches, especially if you’re working at a desk all day. Stretching can also be a positive and relaxing way to start your morning! uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/ files/wellness-mindfulstretchingguide.pdf

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Regular Exercise Exercise causes the release of endorphins in the body, which can relieve stress and increase feelings of happiness. There are many ways we can get our bodies moving even while staying at home. The most important part is to listen to our bodies. Focus on being kind to your body and giving it what will make it feel best. Try an online yoga class. Lots of local studios are offering virtual classes. Go for a walk around your neighborhood (if you can do so safely). Put on some of your favorite music and dance around your room. Check out some workout videos on YouTube. Take time to stretch.

The Rec Center is offering some virtual workout classes live as well as through YouTube videos! You can check them out here: www. asi.calpoly.edu/get-active/fitness/ virtual-fitness-programming/

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Eat healthy, well-balanced meals Eating healthy can be a daunting task sometimes. With so many numbers, nutrients, recommended servings, and recommendations, it can seem impossible to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal. However, eating healthy and nutritiously doesn’t mean eating perfectly clean. Having a balanced diet means eating a variety of foods,

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which includes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and others. A few guidelines to eating well:

include avocado toast, hummus and multigrain crackers, and spiced homemade popcorn. Try to eat some form of protein, fruits, and veggies every day. (Bonus points for different colored fruits and vegetables!)

Always eat breakfast!! (Even if it’s at noon.) Oatmeal, fruit, breakfast sandwiches, and eggs are great options!

Brown rice, roasted veggies, and your favorite protein is a fantastic, well-balanced, filling meal.

Find (good tasting) healthy substitutes for your favorite snacks. Some great snacks

Be mindful of your hunger and fullness.


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Avoid alcohol & drugs

Opening either TikTok or a News app will show you that alcohol sales are booming during this pandemic. Jokes about day drinking or drinking to pass all the time alone inside pop up across social media. While there can be comfort and camaraderie in such humor, it’s even more important now to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Overusing alcohol and drugs can make things worse by creating additional problems, mood disruptions, and physical depletion. Moderation is just as important now as before. If you are partaking, hydrate. Drink

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lots of water and keep healthy foods in your system. Here are some helpful websites related to alcohol and drugs during COVID-19: www.healthline.com/health-news/resistingusing-pot-alcohol-to-ease-stress-during-thecovid-19-outbreak www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/knocking-back-too-many-quarantinis-here-s-howkeep-drinking-ncna1173916 www.thetemper.com/7-tips-to-handle-covid19-anxiety-without-using www.smartrecovery.org/managing-your-feelings-without-substances

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Positively Coping with Stress No matter how much effort you put into taking care of your mental wellbeing, you’ll still experience stress. In times of lots of change and uncertainty, it’s completely normal to feel more stressed than you usually do as well as find situations stressful that normally wouldn’t faze you.

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When thinking about COVID-19 is feeling overwhelming: Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news – including social media. Seek out and spread accurate information (in moderation). Accurately understanding the risks can help you feel more in control. Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy. Connect with others — phone calls, facetime, etc.

We all have a variety of different stressors in our lives – some may be directly related to the global pandemic and others may not. The following content provides some tips and education about positive coping strategies for managing whatever amount of stress you are experiencing during this time.

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Know your red flags It's important to recognize how you react to stress so that you can know when you need to focus more on selfcare and address what you’re feeling. This looks different for everyone, but here are some common ways that stress manifests in our lives: Not sleeping or sleeping too much No appetite or eating too much, even when you are not hungry Experiencing an increase in headaches, muscle aches, frequent colds, and minor illnesses Taking deep breaths and feeling slightly light-headed when you think about a situation you can’t control Becoming frequently irritable, frustrated, angry, impatient, and/or anxious Having difficulty concentrating Crying frequently or worrying excessively Wanting to be alone most of the time Having difficulty giving or accepting help

Whether you have a preexisting health condition or not, it’s always

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important to be aware of any red flags in your mental health. However, during particularly stressful times like right now, it’s important to be even more vigilant in recognizing when you may need to take extra good care of your mental health. When you’re able to identify key thoughts, behaviors, and/or physical sensations that tend to lead towards distress and feeling overwhelmed, you’re able to proactively manage those stressful feelings. There is not necessarily one or a few set right ways to respond to these flags—the best response differs from person to person. Learning about positive coping mechanisms and trying out various ones is a good first step in learning what responses work best for you. It might feel like work but knowing how to (even very slightly) help yourself through experiences of stress or poor mental health can help with feeling more in control.


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S O U R C E S: L O V E I S L O U D E R & J E D F O U N D A T I O N

Routine is your friend It can be easy to fall out of a routine while staying at home, but finding a rhythm can help us focus on what we are able to control. This doesn’t mean we have to be hyper- productive, but it can be a helpful reminder to schedule in small actions that help support our mental wellbeing. Make sure to schedule breaks. Since we don’t have walking time between activities, it’s important to make sure we are still taking breaks. Include time that you will dedicate to selfcare and actions that support you. Be flexible. It’s okay of you don’t stick to your routine or aren’t as productive some days. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself space to figure out what works best for you. 24


Manage uncertainty by staying in the present

It is completely normal to feel uncertain right now, which creates elevated stress, and finding ways to work on tolerating uncertainty can help us stay in the present and alleviate anxiety. Start small by practicing uncertainty slowly. Try not checking the weather when you go for a walk or sitting with a question before immediately seeking out the answer. When anxious feelings arise, try not to distract yourself immediately. Try noticing what you’re feeling and describing it to yourself or others

T H E

without judgment. Try out some mindfulness techniques. Download the Headspace app or take a walk without distractions.

During shelter-in-place it can be easy to lose touch with reality—it’s even easier to want to, and to embrace escapism. But it is important to process these experiences and digest how they make us and others feel, to hopefully alleviate some of the stress that can build up with avoiding them.

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Maintain Connections Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to lose your connection with others. Maintaining a strong support system during this time is important for your wellbeing and can help you feel less alone. Some fun social (distancing) ideas: Have dinner or coffee while video chatting 26

with a group of friends Videocall a friend and watch the same thing at the same time. Schedule regular check-ins with a loved one. Make and share playlists. Play a (video/online) game together.

And remember that even in shelterin-place, it’s okay to seek extra time

and space alone when you need it. Spending more time at home may lead to pressure from friends or family to be more available and closer to your phone than before, but it’s still okay to set your phone and other tech down now too.


Boundaries Sharing your life with someone again can be hard. Moving back home with your family after creating your own routine and lifestyle can be a challenging adjustment to make. Setting boundaries can help you peacefully live with others and respect each other’s space. How to understand and set boundaries: Understand how you feel. A big part of setting boundaries is knowing what boundaries you need to set. Feeling discomfort or resent-

ment is a sign your boundaries aren’t being respected. Take time to reflect what about a certain interaction or situation made you feel uncomfortable. Be direct. Communicate to others what you’re feeling and what can be done to make the situation better. Offer solutions and replacements and try to be assertive (but not aggressive). Give yourself permission. Sometimes we don’t set boundaries because we don’t feel like we deserve them, or we fear we might offend the other person or cause conflict. Creating and respecting boundaries are keys ways of maintaining a healthy relationship—do yourself and others around you a favor by respecting each other’s autonomy, space, and feelings.

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Recognize and react when you start feeling cooped up IT’S EASY TO START feeling antsy,

like while returning from an essential errand run.

restless, or even trapped when in the same environment for an extended period.

BRAINSTORM

WHILE IT IS important TO listen TO GUIDELINES to ensure the safety of yourself and others, if in an area where you can, give yourself an extra five minutes in the car to listen to some songs you

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ways to make your space feel different, by rearranging furniture, hanging pictures, and decorating wall space.

FEELING restless CAN manifest AT TIMES in unexplained irritability; try to acknowledge if this happens and

explain it to those you are sheltering with or set boundaries and explain when you need to process it alone.

IF YOU CAN’T physically transport YOURSELF somewhere else, there are mindfulness exercises that can allow you to imagine a change of scenery. Limited time delving into video games, movies/television, books, music, and other art can help too.


Talk it out YOU’RE not alone IN THIS EXPERIENCE. TALK TO friends, family, OR A counselor ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE FEELING.

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Campus Health & Wellbeing Resources Counseling Services TELE-COUNSELING If a student is wanting to schedule a meeting with our Campus Health and Wellbeing Counselors feel free to call 805-756-2511

Sierra Vista Hospital: (805) 546-7600 French Hospital: (844) 585-6168 (844) 245-3198 (805) 540-6500

TRANSITION MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION (TMHA) www.t-mha.org A non-profit organization serving San Luis Obispo and North Santa Barbara Counties, Transitions-Mental Health Association is dedicated to eliminating stigma and promoting recovery and wellness for people with mental illness through work, housing, community and family support services. TMHA operates over 40 programs on the Central Coast, a wide variety of services that assist individuals and family members taking the recovery journey.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS COVID-19 Assistance Center: (805) 543-2444 Life-threatening, medical emergency: 9-1-1 Community Health Center (CHC): 1-866-614-4636 Twin Cities Hospital: (805) 434-3500 30

Create structure to have a sense of balance

A.G. Hospital: TMHA Front Desk:

Local Resources

Check on friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, especially those that are in shelter-inplace and other countries.

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/ www.ReadySLO.org

Find new daily goals. Make a schedule for the week. Make your bed in the morning for a new daily routine.

Find ways to relax and take care of your physical and mental health. Limit the constant exposure to the COVID-19 news and limit the conversations centered around COVID-19. Try new recipes and get creative in the kitchen.

Jed Foundation www.jedfoundation.org/covid19-tipsand-resources The Jed Foundation is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation's teens and young adults During this stressful time, we’re all looking for way to stay productive and get ourselves into a continuous rut. The Jed Foundation has offered some resources to help cope with those feelings: Staying Connected to our friends and family virtually Look to social media to stay connected with people. Facetime or video call with friends and family to feel less isolated.

Watch your favorite YouTube videos, TV shows, and movies that make you laugh.

Helping Others Write out and share gratitude lists or share a time full of meaning and happiness on social media. This can be a way to do encourage other to do the same. Create a fund with friends for those in need of financial support. Be kind to others, especially those in the service industry.

Steve Fund www.stevefund.org Stay connected with your network Let your support system know you need help. To access culturally trained Crisis Text Line Counselors, Text STEVE to 741741


Create a sense of safety for yourself through prevention. Keep your hands clean using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Choose a hands-free greeting instead of a handshake.

Engage in self-care such as getting plenty of sleep. This will help you stay grounded and calm.

Reduce media exposure

Press Pause www.presspause.halfofus.com There are many ways to pause when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and any other emotion. These ways can be breathing, moving your body, being grateful, creating of list, phoning a friend, and meditating. For more resources on how to take a pause click the link above.

If you find yourself on information overload which can trigger anxiety.

Remain reality based on coronavirus by using trusted sources with accurate up-to-date information. Centers for Disease Control cdc.gov American Public Health Association apha.org National Child Traumatic Stress Network ntcsn.org World Health Organization who.int

Mindful Moments It’s important to be patient with ourselves and others while we are staying in and physical distancing. When tensions rise and tempers flare the best thing to do in that moment is to take a step back to regroup. Recharging allows us to give a better perspective so we can decide how to react whether to react and what to do next.

Louder Action Center loveislouder.com Being apart doesn’t mean that we are alone or disconnected. Taking care of our mental health and supporting each other helps us cope with stress, anxiety, and protect our immune system. If someone you know is feeling overwhelmed right now, you aren’t alone. To have a free confidential chat with a trained counselor 24/7, text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800273-TALK (8255). Take a deep breath

Active Minds www.activeminds.org/blog/tips-tostay-mentally-well-while-workingfrom-home/

Eating Disorders & COVID 19 www.huffpost.com/entry/eatingdisorder-recovery-coronavirus-advic e_l_5e743b0ec5b6f5b7c541755d

When we are feeling overwhelmed or get a burst of anxiety, our often reacts by taking rapid, shallow breaths. Slowing and deepening the breath help us feel calmer and gain a better perspective on the situation. 31