LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It has been nearly four weeks since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and in that time life has changed drastically.

Millions of people have lost their jobs, schools have been closed for the remainder of the academic year and people have been told to keep their physical distance from one another — changes that can take a toll on both physical and mental health.

“During times of heightened stress, our bodies make more stress hormones — including adrenaline and cortisol,” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s surgeon general, said. “And these can affect our health, our behaviors and our emotions.”

That can lead to changes in sleep patterns or appetite, mood changes and an increased risk of substance abuse.

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“For people who are contacting me right now, a lot of them are dealing with different stages of grief, to be honest with you, because we are saying goodbye to an old way of living, we’re saying goodbye to a certain way of interacting with the rest of the world,” Dr. Judy Ho, a psychologist, said. “And that’s going to bring about existential crises for a lot of people.”

But she said there are ways to deal with the unknown, including connecting with people.

“It’s not just getting on the phone and listening to someone talk,” she said. “It’s about doing something that actually gives you value in your life and makes you feel connected to a bigger piece of the puzzle, because that’s what helps fight depression and also calms anxiety.”

She also recommended that people keep their routines: getting up and going to sleep around the same time, taking a shower, being creative about getting exercise and getting dressed.

And one more thing people can do to help manage stress and depression is to practice mindfulness — which can be done through yoga, meditation or prayer.

Those in Los Angeles County struggling with mental health issues can call 1-800-854-7771. Those living in the rest of California can connect with resources on the state’s website.


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