SPOKANE, Wash. — A mental health expert at Frontier Behavioral Health in Spokane offered tips on how to stay mentally healthy during an isolation period at home.

Many people throughout the nation are practicing self-isolation in an effort to stop the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

While many are staying inside for most of the day, the focus on mental stability is of increased importance, said Susie Johnson, who is a consultant at the center.

“Right now, we’re in the middle of history, and our thoughts and feelings of what we’re going through matter,” Johnson said. “Are we being conscientious of others and their needs?”

Making a gratitude journal, meditating and adding colorful decorations to your home are some of the ways to encourage positive thoughts, she said. 

She said parents should also pay close attention to their children and make note of any inconsistent or anxious behavior, such excessive hand washing or an abundance of questions about health concerns.

“Sit down eye-to-eye with your kiddo, and ask them, ‘What’s going on, how are you feeling and what do you understand?'” Johnson said.

She said parents should reach out to a mental health professional for help if thoughts or situations become too difficult to manage. 

Mental health experts also recommend finding ways to reach out to other people if they cannot be with them in person. 

For instance, call a friend or family member, use a video chat service like Facebook Messenger or FaceTime, or simply get outside and get some fresh air. 

Some other tips: write out a regular schedule and stick to it, take breaks, eat at normal times, maintain a normal sleep schedule, exercise outdoors, practice yoga and do some stretching. 

Those whose AA or NA meetings, along with others, have been canceled may also be struggling. 

You can call the Lines for Life Drug and Alcohol helpline at 800-923-4357 for a listing of online or in-person meetings available. 

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