COVID-19: Beyond Physical Self-care
This pandemic may have surprised a lot of people. Some may also be wondering whether the actions taken are necessary or an overreaction. We're not here to debate that. We're here to do our part in helping dull the impact and support people in managing their health... ALL aspects of their health during this stressful time.
A few months ago, it was easy to dismiss COVID-19 as another headline the media was hyping and using for click-bait. It was common to assume it would blow over. We're now realizing how serious it is, and the drastic actions taken by countries across the world, while critical to managing the spread of infection, have the potential for even bigger (and sometimes overlooked) psychological impacts. Good management of this virus not only requires practicing safe social distancing and cleansing; it also requires us to all practice good self-care AND supportive care of others.
It's not only the stress or concern of infection but the new stress and anxiety regarding the short and long-term financial impacts. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Particular stressors and their impact during this time can include:
- Fear and worry about personal health or the health of loved ones
- Fear and worry about financial stability or employment
- Fear and anxiety about access to food, medication, or other necessities
- Feelings of isolation or lack of control
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns - Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Being aware of these concerns can help to proactively counteract them. Here are some suggestions for things you can do to support your mental health during this time:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news, (including social media). While it's important to be informed, constantly and repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting and add to your anxiety. Choose a trusted source or routine to get regular updates, but try to avoid being completely consumed by it.
- Take care of your body. Do some quiet deep breathing, stretch, or meditate. It can have an immediate physiological effect in reducing tension and blood pressure. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Many people are being told to stay at home. Try to do some activities you enjoy. Switch off the news and watch a movie or your favorite comedy. Read a book. Do a crossword or a puzzle. Spend some time in your garden or just go for a walk (you can easily maintain social distancing as long as you're not on a "shelter in place order").
- Connect with others (virtually or with appropriate social distancing). Talk or text with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling, and also check-in and ask them how they are feeling.
It's an important time to be mindful of being a good citizen, friend, and neighbor. Don't just do your part to help reduce the spread of this virus, also proactively check-in and communicate with friends, family, and co-workers when you can. Ask if people need help or how they are feeling. Together we can get through this in a strong and resilient manner.