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Mental health expert advice on staying mentally fit during pandemic

(WABI)
Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 4:11 PM EDT
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Take a break from the news and social media.

That's what mental health experts are recommending during this pandemic, especially with so many people at home right now.

According to Doctor Jessica Pollard, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, there is such a thing as information overload.

She says people really should be taking breaks from coronavirus news.

Doctor Pollard says while it is important to stay informed, many people are feeding into their fears by focusing too much on information surrounding the virus.

She recommends setting a daily limit.

Such as, twice a day you would focus on the news and educating yourself with credible sources of information.

And be mindful and concrete about those limits.

Dr. Pollard says, "This is a public health emergency which we do take very seriously and we want people to be engaged in looking at valid sources of information or credible sources of information. But not to have that entirely take over people's mental space."

Doctor Pollard says make sure you are spending time on self-care every day.

She recommends getting out of your pj's, getting some fresh air and exercise and to trying to stick to a routine.

Taking care of your mental health during the pandemic is just as important as your physical health, according to Dr. Pollard.

She also says the term "social distancing" is misleading.

She says physical distancing is a term for the recommended healthy distance an individual should maintain from another.

In fact, we should be encouraging social connectivity to keep mentally fit.

She says to avoid socially isolating yourself, make sure you are spending time with the members of your household, especially if you have kids.

Dr. Pollard adds exercise is a great way to stay physically and mentally fit.

She says going out for a walk and saying hi to your neighbors across the way is still considered keeping your physical distance.

She says, "There are still plenty of ways to connect with people. Facetime, phone calls, texting that don't necessarily need to lead down the rabbit hole of spending all day on social media."

Doctor Pollard pointed out several virtual resources for folks who are feeling anxious or who are worried about their mental health.

You can find those by visiting maine.gov.

Another great resource recently put out is, heretohelpmaine.com.

You can also reach out in these ways:

24/7 Statewide Crisis Line 888-568-1112

24/7 Peer Support Warm line 866-771-9276

24/7 Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)

24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746

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