Prague-based experts offer calming tips for coping with quarantine stress

Try these strategies for ensuring good mental health in difficult times

Katrina Modrá

Written by Katrina Modrá Published on 18.03.2020 11:52:19 (updated on 18.03.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

For anyone who grapples with depression, social anxiety, or health anxiety on a regular basis the current global pandemic can trigger or exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

And while handwashing may keep the virus at bay it certainly doesn’t do much for anxiety levels. So what can you do to cope whether you are someone who has been diagnosed with any kind of mental health issues or someone who’s simply unaccustomed to dealing with the added stress brought on by the current atmosphere of dread, fear, and isolation?

Continue getting help

Experts say that its important to continue your existing care regimen. Many mental health professionals, like everyone and everything else right now, are moving their practices online. Their colleagues in Prague and the Czech Republic are no exception.

A number of professionals from our own directory listings have confirmed that they are offering contactless Skype and WhatsApp sessions in English and other languages; see individual listings for therapists, counselors, and psychologists here

Practice acceptance

Dr. Désirée Gonzalo is one of many Prague-based mental-health professionals who will be offering her multilingual services online via Skype. A clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders, she shared some coping strategies for anyone suffering from anxiety brought on by the spread of coronavirus.

She says that aside from following the government’s instructions, practicing acceptance is an important step to take in order to ensure good mental health. “Accept the current reality and do what you need to do in terms of self-care, care of loved ones, and work. Stay focused,” she says.

Do something that brings you joy

Those who need some extra help practicing mindfulness should do something that brings them joy or even look to wellness practices such as online yoga.

While there are scores of online yoga videos some daily wellness offerings in our time zone include daily 30-minute sessions with Czech choreographer and leader of 420people troupe, Václav Kuneš, streaming at 10.30 am in Czech and at 5pm in English.

Lisa Marie Cunniff, founder of UP4 Art, Language, and Life will be offering a range of daily yoga and meditation sessions across her Facebook and YouTube channels.

Limit how much time you spend checking headlines

And while it may be tempting to spend the day reading news updates, Dr. Gonzalo says our state of mind can suffer as a result. “Reading or watching the news too frequently can lead to unhealthy catastrophising, she says, which in turn can lead to imagining negative future scenarios. She suggests checking the news once or twice a day, and sticking to trusted sources.

Of course, entirely eschewing technology isn’t practical advice and disconnecting could leave you feeling adrift. Dr. Gonzalo recommends staying connected with friends and family.

Recognize this as a special time

For anyone who is still unable to cope or needs emergency help, Gail Whitmore is a Prague-based counsellor trained in crisis prevention and intervention. She will be offering her services 24/7, taking calls and conducting online sessions. She also recommends the English-friendly crisis chat for emergency situations.


Whitmore adds that trying to look at the positive aspects of the situation could actually help those who face mounting fears to remain focused. She recommends re-connecting with your family in ways that weren’t practical before due to time constraints (do game nights, puzzles, etc.) or tackling things you always wished you could do if you only had the time — reread your favorite book, try or new hobby, or study Czech.

“Some of these things may sound a bit cheesy,” says Whitmore, “But it could be truly helpful to try and look outside of the box and use this very special chunk of time where other options are strictly limited.”

What are you doing to keep your mental health in check during this difficult time?

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