The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for many of us. Coupled with the fear and anxiety about the virus has been the frustration associated with job loss or furlough, the sudden change in our lifestyles, and the seemingly unanswerable questions of When will things go back to normal? Is this the new normal?
This sudden, constantly changing upheaval can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children.
May was Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, with COVID-19, it feels more important than ever that we all find ways to reduce stress and care for our individual emotional health and well-being.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress during an infectious disease outbreak like COVID-19 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.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Everyone reacts differently to stress. How people respond to the COVID-19 outbreak – especially one on a magnitude they have never dealt with before – can depend on their background, upbringing, the things that make them different from other people, and the community they live in.
First Things First: Ways to Cope With Stress
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. Whether it’s taking a walk, listening to your favorite music, reading a favorite book or listening to a meditation app such as Calm, taking breaks away from the constant barrage of pandemic information from the news and social media, can be vital to your mental health right now.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. Find a quiet spot in your home and just be restful. Watch your favorite movie. Try your hand at a hobby. There is no shame in trying to divert your attention away from what is stressing you out.
Connect with others. Whether you are feeling out of sorts, stressed, or climbing the walls, talking with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling can be very therapeutic.
Check in with your loved ones often. Virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated as we come out of COVID-19 quarantine. Consider connecting with loved ones by:
- mailing letters or cards
- text messages
- video chat such as Zoom or FaceTime
- social media
Mind the Body. During times like this, your physical well-being is just as important as your emotional well-being. Some ways to help your body feel better includes:
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
Meditation is a mind and body practice that can increase calmness and physical relaxation, improve psychological balance, help people cope with illness, and enhance overall health and well-being. Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, body, and behavior. A report based on data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that U.S. adults’ use of meditation in the past 12 months tripled between 2012 and 2017 (from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent). The use of meditation by U.S. children (aged 4 to 17 years) also increased significantly (from 0.6 percent in 2012 to 5.4 percent in 2017).
There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common:
- A quiet location with as few distractions as possible
- A specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions)
- A focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath)
- An open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them)
Many studies have investigated meditation for different conditions, and there’s evidence that it may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people who have had ulcerative colitis. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and may help people with insomnia.
Knowing where to start with meditation can be difficult, but there are many apps you can easily access from your smartphone to begin. You can find a list of meditation apps here:
What to Do When You or Someone You Know Needs Help
If you, or someone you care about, is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:
- Call 911.
- Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
- Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. It is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States. These counselors provide:
- Crisis counseling for people in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
- Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
- Tips for healthy coping
- Referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow-up care and support
The Disaster Distress Helpline staff members provide counseling and support before, during, and after disasters and refer people to local disaster-related resources for follow-up care and support. Since its launch in February 2012, the Disaster Distress Helpline has provided counseling and support in response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Ebola outbreak, and the coronavirus pandemic.
When you call or text, crisis counselors will listen to what’s on your mind with patience and without judgment. There is no need to give any identifying information when you contact the Disaster Distress Helpline.
Please remember you are not alone. We will get through COVID-19. Stay safe and take care of yourself.
About Watson & Carroll
Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., is not a high-volume law firm that only speaks with clients when it is absolutely necessary. For us, it’s personal.
Our team is based in three convenient locations. We work closely with our clients and their loved ones– not only so that we understand their challenges and concerns, but so we can tailor our approach to address those factors, aggressively pursue results, and secure peace of mind. Whether it is a Social Security Disability claim, a personal injury claim, or fighting for workers compensation benefits, we fight to protect our clients and make sure their rights are upheld.