Taking Care in the Midst of COVID-19
This week, I have spoken to many people about their heightened emotions since the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the subsequent label by WHO as a pandemic. I’ve taken time to listen and to also reflect on my own emotional response. I would like to share some thoughts with you as we navigate the waters as a community and individually.
Everyone has a definition of what is a stressful event for them. And everyone reacts to those events differently. If you find that you have not felt impacted at all by reports of the coronavirus outbreak, that is a perfectly okay response. If you find that you have been more anxious, sad, irritable or angry lately, that is completely normal, too. Our reaction to stressful events is a product of a multitude of factors including, our proximity to the event, socioeconomic status, personal history, and personality. Some people who may respond more strongly include individuals who are managing a mental health condition (like anxiety), children, and first responders/healthcare professionals.
Sometimes responses to a stressful event don’t present as emotions. Instead, you may notice a change in sleep patterns; change in appetite; difficulty concentrating; worsening of a chronic health problem (like GERD or chronic pain); change in behavior (stocking up on essentials or changing your routine); or increased use of alcohol or other drugs.
It is really important that during stressful times, you continue to take care of your physical and mental health. That means sticking to your treatment plan including taking medications as prescribed; attending routine appointments; adhering to any special diet you may have. It also means reaching out to your supports—family, friends, doctors, therapists, and support groups. We need each other during this uncertain time.
What you can do:
1. Limit your intake of news media / social media. Repeated exposure to the same stressful event can exacerbate our stress response. It’s good to stay in the know, but consider limiting your ingestion, especially if you are starting to feel overwhelmed.
2. Take care of your body by self caring. Drink lots of water, eat healthy, and continue with your normal exercise routine (as approved by your primary doctor). Good diet, exercise, and sleep are the trifecta for health. Plus, make time to relax. Constant vigilance is not good for our bodies. To counteract the feelings of stress, use your relaxation coping skills like breathing, journaling, listening to music, reading a book or going for a walk.
3. Counseling. If you find that you are having a difficult time coping or that you are feeling overwhelmed, please reach out and / or keep your scheduled appointment. We will come up with new tools for your mental health toolbox or refresh the ones you have now.
4. Take appropriate precautions to keep yourself healthy follow the CDC guidelines that can be found here.
Information about COVID-19 is being updated frequently; here are resources to find updated information as needed. Click on links to be taken to the website:
WHO - World Health Organization
CDC - Center for Disease Control and Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio
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