News & Updates

AppDirect Turns to Focus on COVID-19 and Mental Health

By Dan Saks / April 17, 2020

AppDirect Business Continuity

In the weeks since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, we've all made adjustments, both at work and at home, to settle into our "new normal." Even though social distancing may feel more familiar now, for many it can still bring up a range of emotions—boredom, anger, loneliness—that can be difficult to deal with.

At AppDirect, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health. That's why we devoted our most recent Town Hall to discussing how the pandemic can affect our emotional well-being, and what we can do to feel better. With this in mind, we invited Dr. Nidhi Trivedi, Psy.D., a Chicago-based clinical psychologist with experience treating anxiety and other issues, to join our video call. As she explained, stress is always part of life, but the increased anxiety that many of us are feeling can impact us in unexpected ways. "When our bodies are subjected to any kind of a stress, it releases cortisol," she said. "A moderate amount of cortisol actually helps you perform better. It helps you with problem-solving cognitive tasks."

She continued: "But with our current circumstances, we have this chronic low-level stress, so many of us have more and more cortisol in our bodies. Many studies have found that higher levels of cortisol can make you more susceptible to viral infections and cardiovascular disease, and more prone to developing anxiety and depression."

According to Dr. Trevedi, one of the best ways to help alleviate this stress is to simply talk. "People often want to sweep their feelings under the rug, to minimize them," she said. "But it's important to reach out. Call your family members, call your friends. Open the lines of communication and open spaces where people are free to talk about their negative feelings. We are living in an age where technology can be used in so many different ways to help bring you closer to your friends and family. Of course, it's not a substitution for in-person interactions, but this is a time when it's more important than ever to reach out and not give up on the connections that you have."

In addition to talking, Dr. Trevedi discussed meditation as a way to combat the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic. Today, there are a number of apps you can use to guide you through meditation exercises, but she says that technology isn't necessary. "Find a comfortable space where everything is quiet and try and go back to a very positive memory in your life. Try and revisit the sights, smells, what you saw, what you heard, and try to recreate that picture in your mind," she says. "The key is to just go to a nice, comfortable, positive space in your mind and recreate that memory because you want to disrupt your thoughts and try and relax."

Dr. Trevedi recently published a Kindle book that contains even more insights into how the pandemic can impact mental health, as well as practical steps that you can take to feel better. Her "COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Mental Health Guide: Strategies to Manage Mood Effectively in Times of Global Distress" details how routines, good sleep habits, physical activity, and other factors can impact our mood. She also details how to take care of your emotional well-being, including these tips for emotional self-care:

  • Recognize the people who might be able to take care of your emotional needs.

  • Try to communicate one of those needs in a relationship.

  • Journal about your emotional needs.

  • Improve self-care. It is never too late to start making small yet significant changes in your life. Like everything, small steps can be more effective in the long run.

  • Schedule self-care time for yourself every day that does not involve any other person. Be assertive about that time and do what you most enjoy doing.

We wanted to give Dr. Trevedi a special thanks for participating in our Town Hall, and for creating such a useful, topical guide. We believe her advice for staying connected—to both ourselves and the people we care about—will serve us well in this time of uncertainty, and as well look to what the future may bring.

Dan Saks is co-founder and co-CEO of AppDirect.