COVID-19, coronavirus, is challenging in a variety of ways. Our entire lives are being impacted, from having to stay at home, worrying about becoming infected, scarcity of essentials, anxiety over work situations, and missing loved ones.
The stress of it all can take a toll on our mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Sue McCaw, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) at Hometown Health Center, have provided crucial information regarding the stress of coping with a pandemic.
According to the CDC, 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
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
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 and keep hydrated. Think of drinking extra water not because you’re thirsty, but because your body needs the fluids to stay healthy.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Make time to unwind
Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Going outside to enjoy the warm spring weather is healthy and a way to help have some normalcy in our lives at this time. For some this may require developing a new “normal”, for at least the time that we’re in. Having normalcy and predictability is good for reducing stress.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Stay positive and give positive encouragement. Even when we struggle to feel safe and assured, as we speak the words we will feel the assurance and strength.
For more information from the CDC, visit www.cdc.gov