January 2, 2022

Coping With COVID-19: 6 Tips to Protect Your Mental Health When You’re Sick

Be mindful of signs of depression when you’re isolating

Man in self-imposed quarantine communicating with wife through window

It’s normal to feel anxiety, worry and grief any time you’re diagnosed with a medical condition – and that’s certainly true if you test positive for COVID-19, or are presumed to be positive.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

If your symptoms aren’t severe and you can recover at home, this will involve home isolation until it’s safe for you to be near others without potentially spreading the infection.

Isolation protects others from getting sick – but for the person who is sick, it might seem like one more thing on top of an already stressful situation.

“Being sick is not only hard on your physical well being but it can also significantly impact your mental health. Recovering from an illness can trigger stress, anxiety and depression which slow down your recovery processes. Tending to your emotional health during this time is key,” says psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD.

Here are some ways to keep anxiety and sadness from creeping in while you recover from COVID-19:

Focus on what you can know and control

You may not know how you got infected, or how long it will take to recover. Instead of focusing your energy on regret or what ifs, double down on what you can do. Your job now is to take care of yourself, get well and avoid spreading the infection to anyone else.

Advertisement

Engage your support network

Ask loved ones to check in on you regularly via phone, email or video chat. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. If you’re worried about taking care of children, pets or household duties while you’re sick, identify family members, friends or members of your community who aren’t part of a high-risk population and may be able to help.

Eat well, stay hydrated + meditate

Feed your body nutritious food (over comfort food) when your appetite allows, and stay hydrated. If you’re able, take deep breaths, meditate or stretch to help relax your body.

Do activities you enjoy and find relaxing

Keep yourself distracted to help prevent worry, ruminating or catastrophizing. Read a book, watch a show, do a puzzle. Many people find it difficult to focus on tasks while ill. Try calming music. It can help you to relax and distract your mind, Dr. Albers says.

Make sure you’re sleeping enough

Give yourself permission to just rest. You don’t have to do or achieve anything besides taking care of yourself. Now isn’t the time to stay up till 3 a.m. binge watching a new show.

Advertisement

Step back from the news and social media

All the chatter online can make you feel even more upset and overwhelmed. “Slow down the scroll of your social media feed or simply put it aside. Viewing what other people are doing 24/7 can make you feel like you are missing out or depressed about your situation. Remember that this will pass,” Dr. Albers says.

Being socially isolated can increase your risk of depression and anxiety. While you recover, watch out for these common red flags:

  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt.
  • Changes in your appetite that aren’t related to your illness or symptoms.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Trouble concentrating on things.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself.

Dr. Albers notes that many behavioral health professionals are still seeing patients virtually, so if you can’t seem to control your negative thoughts, or experience any of these signs for more than two weeks, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to someone.

Related Articles

doctor speaking with middle-age woman
February 21, 2024
Does Your Health Determine Menopause Age?

Reaching menopause very early raises your risk of certain health conditions

crowd of people at music concert
February 5, 2024
What Constitutes a ‘Superspreader Event’?

Any large social gathering — from a family birthday party to an indoor music concert — has the potential to spread serious infection

Caregiver and elderly male with head bent down
February 2, 2024
After Your Stroke: How To Handle 14 Common Complications

Your age, the type of stroke you had, the cause and the location can all impact your recovery

Male with eyes closed sitting hunched over, pinching area between their eyes
January 29, 2024
Headache and Fatigue: 11 Possible Causes That Can Trigger Both

Many factors, like dehydration, a cold or even your medication, can result in these common symptoms

Female wrapped in blanket laying on sofa looking fatigued or unwell
January 23, 2024
How To Manage COVID Fatigue and Regain Your Energy

It’s important to connect with a healthcare provider, get quality sleep and balance your activities with your energy levels

Sick person on couch using tissue on nose with medication bottles on coffee table
January 19, 2024
How To Know if It’s COVID-19, a Cold or Allergies

Symptoms can overlap and be hard to distinguish, but there are some telltale differences

Close-up of hands in lab gloves sorting vials and covid-19 blood sample
January 17, 2024
Everything You Need To Know About COVID-19 Variants

Just like the flu, COVID-19 will continue to evolve every year

Adult female on couch, coughing into crook of arm, holding thermometer
January 15, 2024
Prepping for Flurona: When COVID-19 and the Flu Strike at the Same Time

It’s best to treat flu-like symptoms as if you have COVID-19

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad