4 Tips for Coping with the COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19, General, Mental Health Steward Health Care

By Jeanne Paccia, PhD, Steward Health Care Senior Psychologist

It can be very stressful to worry about catching an infectious disease while doing your best to meet work demands and take care of your family. Here are four steps you can take to keep you and your family feeling mentally balanced and safe during this uncertain time.

Stay Informed

Following media news reports can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. It is important to limit your exposure to the constant stream of information available and to filter out what has been sensationalized for the news. The following sources are reputable and provide timely updates and information:

Also, try limiting your check-ins for new information to once a day. Media breaks are important!

Stay Calm and Practice Self-Care

When dealing with frightening situations, it is normal to feel anxiety, which can lead to irrational thinking. It is important to try to catch ourselves when we go down a path of unhelpful or extreme thinking. Coping strategies include:

  • Staying connected with family/friends/community in creative ways.
  • Managing challenging emotions with acceptance, mindfulness, relaxation, soothing and/or pleasurable activities. There are many free apps to help with relaxation and mindfulness. Try Calm or HeadSpace.
  • Avoiding unhelpful coping strategies like substance use, rumination/constant worrying, or high-risk behavior.
  • Engaging in positive lifestyle behaviors such as regular physical activity, eating healthy and practicing sleep hygiene. Also, be sure to practice re-framing and problem-solving as needed.

A very useful self-care and resilience toolkit can be found at mghclaycenter.org/self-care.

Have a Plan

Make lists for important day-to-day needs and keep these updated. Lists should include needed food supplies and medications, important tasks, and necessary health care professional and work contacts. Keep items on your list stocked and replenished, check off tasks as completed, and keep your contacts updated. Enlist the help of others as needed. This will help you to stay focused on the present and maintain some sense of control.

Name and Validate Emotions

Recognizing emotions in a frightening time is helpful for everyone. There are many adults who are concerned about the state of the coronavirus, both for themselves and for their loved ones. Checking in on our own emotional states and taking steps to manage our emotions before talking to loved ones is important. When speaking to colleagues and loved ones, try to be mindful of what you are modeling. A good guide for how to support children and teens during COVID can be found at http://bit.ly/CC-COVID-19.

Takeaways

The biggest takeaway of this health crisis, experts agree, is that we need to take good care of ourselves and maintain balance in our daily lives.

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