Breaking News
More () »

3 steps to help you mentally cope with COVID-19 pandemic

A Wash U psychology professor said to carry two mindsets with you. One is give yourself permission to be human. The other is to take things one day at a time

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force tries to ensure the best possible patient care.

RELATED: Area's largest healthcare providers announce creation of task force to combat COVID-19 pandemic

But it's also here to provide resources.

That's why in Friday's briefing, doctors included strategies to help with your mental health. Wash U psychology professor Dr. Tim Bono provided tips to focus on psychological well-being.

As he teaches and studies the science of happiness, he's found a way to help your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It really does affect all other areas in our life including our physical health and success at work and our relationships," Dr. Bono said.

He narrowed it down to three key behaviors.

Credit: Dr. Tim Bono

The first one is finding a sense of autonomy.

"It can very easily feel like things are spiraling out of control, so it becomes important to focus on behaviors that are in our control," he added. 

Trauma therapist Richelle Moore agreed with focusing on what is in your control.

"That’s where our anxiety exists when we focus on those future places and those past experiences," she said.

RELATED: Resources for those battling substance abuse during the coronavirus pandemic

Second is competence, working towards accomplishing daily goals.

"Even simple things like making your bed in the morning. Very often the sense of satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a small task can motivate us to accomplish bigger tasks," Dr. Bono said.

Moore suggested creating a to-do list.

"It can be three or four items and it’s something you’re working towards every day," she said.

Third, is relatedness: connecting with family and friends.

"It's so important to be seeing each other, so we know we're okay. It reminds you that you're not alone," Moore told 5 On Your Side.

"Those three areas are well documented in being key contributors to psychological help and happiness," Dr Bono explained.

RELATED: Therapists offering virtual sessions and support during COVID-19

He also said to carry two mindsets with you: one is give yourself permission to be human.

"If we don’t want to feel the sadness, we’re going to feel the sadness with even greater intensity. So, sometimes the thing to do is to allow that sadness to wash over us and let it run its course and think about what we can do to get back on our feet."

Dr. Bono studies the science of happiness from people around the world. He said his learning has taught him that one is happy all the time, but what the happiest people have in common is they know there are really hard times in life. And when bad times happen, instead of being upset, they acknowledge it and create strategies to deal with it. 

The other mindset is to take things one day at a time.

"We will come out on the other side of this, so how we come out on the other side of this is important," Moore said.

5 On Your Side is partnering with Behavioral Health Response and we'll have mental health experts answering questions and discussing concerns all day next Thursday.