As many express concern over COVID-19, there are feelings of anxiety and fear concerning this disease. Assumptions, bombardment of fact and fiction of the virus, number of cases, and creeping uncertainty has an effect on us. Fear and disruption to our lives may cause many to have the sense of perpetual doom. The stress of this concern may hinder your health, mental well-being, and your ability to cope. Though many experience stress on various levels, some may not be aware of its impact on their lives at this time.
Stress is known as the ‘flight or fight’ response. You may experience stress from four sources, social stressors, environmental, physical, or perceptual (Davis, Eshelman, & McKay, 2008). How you interpret, perceive, and label your experience and your prediction of the future can also affect the response (Davis, et al., 2008). We can work to conquer and contain this feeling by using many techniques, knowledge, and positive adjustments in our lives. To manage stress in these continually changing times we can:
Long-term stress may have health consequences ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease (APA 2007). It is important to use this time as a catalyst to sustain and strengthen your health. Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress). However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress).
Journaling may assist with understanding the complexities of your life as it relates to the pandemic. It may take some of the preoccupation with worry and anxiety by describing your feelings and expressing thoughts. Strive to keep physically healthy in mind and body. Managing stress may help you get sick less often and heal faster (Manage Stress, 2020).
Managing time can be an important method in mitigating stress. Those who may need to continue working while avoiding close contact may need to manage time concerning shopping, household chores, and time with family. Virtual shopping, online restaurants, as well as social media may be helpful.
Virtual physicians, medical professionals, mental health professionals, schoolwork, and libraries can be found on the internet. The old fashion telephone can also be utilized for ordering take out, speaking with healthcare, and grocery shopping. Families with children may want to attempt to keep as close to a schedule as possible. Schedule time for homework, study, cleaning, and schoolwork, so when children eventually return to school, there is less of a disruption.
Resolve to make a plan. Planning during this critical time will be an asset (Manage Stress, 2020). Think ahead concerning how you will use your time. You may want to write a list and decide which tasks are the most important, but be realistic regarding how long each task may take (Manage Stress, 2020).
Planning meals for several days may be a viable option. You may want to assess your stock of foods and produce. This may be an opportunity to be creative with many meals and your ability to stretch your food dollars by using beans, rice, and other whole grains. Families may want to prepare meals with their children, or have their children research meal planning and what constitutes healthy food choices. Spring cleaning and using alternate chemical cleaning products can also be part of your plan.
Rest and Relaxation
Deep restful sleep is important during this time to stay healthy. According to Dongen, Maislin, Mullington, and Dinges (2007), chronic sleep restriction consisting of 6 hours or less per night during a two-week period produced cognitive performance deficits equivalent for up to 2 nights of total sleep deprivation. The authors indicate that moderate sleep restriction can seriously impair waking neurobehavioral functions in healthy adults.
Many internet sites are available online that provide relaxation videos. You can pull out that old disk on yoga, relaxation, stretching, or meditation. Alternatively, you may want to practice your own method of relaxation, developing a style and that is appropriate for you.
Relaxation may take many forms. Music, coloring, hobbies, drawing, journaling, imagery, or other mindful activities may be a balm to jangled nerves. Though there are tremendous health benefits from green spaces and forests, it may be difficult to be outside in parks and large green spaces especially during this time of self-quarantine. Access the internet for videos of relaxing outdoor spaces, gardens, trees, and woodlands. Some may also include nature sounds and music.
Make time to relax. Use deep breathing, other arts, or quiet introspection to assist with relaxation.
Engender Health and Positive Actions
Eat healthier meals. Embrace your surroundings. Your ability to maintain a positive attitude may keep you healthy in mind and body. Utilize your home exercise program, online exercise, or just use old CD’s. You can incorporate Martial Arts, Yoga, Zumba, etc. for fitness. Have fun and workout with family.
According to the APA (2007), many Americans engage in unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, smoking, and inactivity when dealing with stress. Continue your regimen of vitamins and the all nature enhancing vitamin D of sunlight. Build your collection of energetic music that uplifts and gets you moving. This may help to invigorate you and lighten your mood.
Numerous studies have shown that we manage stress successfully and enjoy better physical health with the support of a spouse, close friend, or formal support group (Duffy, Kirsch, & Atwater, 2014). Support others by helping, checking on others, applauding positive acts of kindness, and understanding feelings. BE mindful that all assistance should be within the safety guidelines. Calling, Facetime, Zoom conferencing, Skype, and other forms of communication may assist with continual contact.
Study the Facts from Reliable Sources
It is also essential to garner new information during these times. Children will need to access reliable information online for their schoolwork. It is important to gather information from relevant sources. Libraries, higher learning institutes, your child’s school website, and government sites may prove to be abundant sources of factual information. Self-quarantine may open opportunities to learn a new language, skill, or hobby.
One will experience stress at some time during their life. Following the guidelines of the CDC may assist with how we can control some of our immediate environment. What we do have the most direct control over are those actions covering the next few hours (Duffy, Kirsch, & Atwater, 2014). We tend to experience an event as less stressful when we have reasonable control over it (Duffy et al., 2014). If stress has been overwhelming and moving you into depression and despair, please consult your mental healthcare professional. Virtual counseling is available. We can only control the immediacy of today and plan for tomorrow. Each day, it is important to live in the moment.
Dr. Victoria Merrill-Washington