Be advised that any information provided on this website and in this blog is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace medically necessary services. Seek medical attention and advice from your doctor for any and all physical health concerns and life threatening mental or physical conditions. This article is based on information adapted by Lisa Reid originating from current, at the time of this posting, the CDC.gov website.
Stress and Coping
In these uncertain times, although we don’t fully know what lies ahead during this global health outbreak, we all benefit from being informed and taking action with what is within our control. We still have choices. Choose a sense of Peace over Panic.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for you. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Taking care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
We all react differently to stressful situations and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during this outbreak will help you think clearly and react to urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an outbreak will help your long-term health.
How you respond to the outbreak will depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people and the community in which you live.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Look out for these common signs of distress:
- Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear
- Changes in appetite, energy and activity levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Anger or short-temper
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
If you experience these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities, seek professional help.
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY- If you find yourself or someone else in a life-threatening emergency or need to speak with someone immediately, call for help:
- Call 911
- Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL): 1-800-715-4225
- National (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
or text “TalkWithUs” pr “Hablanos” to 1- 787-339-2663
TTY : 1-800-846-8517
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Things you can do to support yourself
- Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body :
– Take deep breaths, by trying 4 count inhalations and 4 count exhalations.
– Stretch and exercise regularly, even if just going for a walk outside.
– Connect with nature, breathe fresh air and do something outdoors.
– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals.
– Get plenty of sleep.
– Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
– Create a routine and try to plan how to spend your day to be productive and focused, to gain a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
– Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Ease your Mind and gain a Sense of Peace with Mindfulness Practices
– Take deep breaths, by trying 4 count inhalations and 4 count exhalations.
– Try tapping. Go to eftinternational.org to learn more about how to regulate your emotions and calm your nervous system by gently tapping on your face and body. I use mindful tapping in my practice and teach it to help relax one’s body and regulate your emotional and physical response to stress, but also to restore energy and change thoughts and beliefs that my have kept us feeling stuck or blocked.
– Change your focus and connect to your senses. Use 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness exercise. Sit in a comfortable chair, tune into your body and name 5 things you notice your skin is touching or can feel, name 4 things you can see, name 3 things you can hear, name 2 things you can smell, and name 1 thing you can taste in your mouth.
– Meditate. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
– Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the simple act of noticing with acceptance and without judgement.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. Consider card or board games, singing songs, dancing, reading, drawing, writing poetry, watching movies (monitor Netflix binging). If you have the good fortune to be able to work from home, take breaks, and ensure you are giving yourself permission to take advantage of time with family.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Be safe and use the telephone, skype or facetime or similar technology to stay connected. Being socially distanced doesn’t have to mean you can’t stay connected.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Reduce Stress in Yourself and Others
Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to your self and others you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for current and accurate information.
When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them. I encourage use of facetime or skype to stay connected.
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
There are many things you can do to support your child
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is “okay” if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members safely.
If you have an emergency and need immediate assistance, see emergency services above.
If you are seeking support during this uncertain time and feel stressed and overwhelmed, I am currently accepting new clients. I connect with new and current clients through my secure online portal that allows live video/audio (telemental health) therapy sessions. Telemental health allows you to safely and effectively meet your mental health needs without risking your physical health.
Information in this blog was adapted by Lisa Reid from the CDC.gov website.