"How can I help?" I am not a doctor and I cannot assist medically with COVID-19 but I do work with individuals’ reactions to crises every day. That, I would say, makes me an expert in managing various crises one may face -- specifically in managing our reactions to crises.
We cannot control how we feel, or what emotions or thoughts are triggered by such an event. But we can manage responses to our internal reactions.
1. LIMIT EXPOSURE TO ALL FORMS OF MEDIA.
Yes, you heard me, any exposure to social media or the news. Overexposure and/or reading about the pandemic for several hours each day while this continues to transpire triggers more and more reactions. We cannot control what is happening, but we can limit our exposure to it. Endlessly scrolling through social media or researching repeatedly can increase anxiety.
2. INCREASE POSITIVE ACTIVITIES
This sounds so simple, but it has a strong impact on how we feel. Read a book or watch a movie about something light, do a puzzle or an art project, exercise, or do some spring cleaning. I know cleaning does not sound very fun, but it is helpful in these times. The important thing is to focus completely on the task at hand, what we refer to as mindfulness participating. This is very helpful to have a mental break from any crisis. Your nervous system needs that break.
3. SELF CARE:
Sleeping, eating, drinking water, and exercising
When it comes to the body, try to meet all your body’s needs: yoga, stretching, hot baths, exercise, healthy eating, drinking lots of water, and trying to increase your quality of sleep can help minimize the effects of crisis on your body, your emotions, and mind.
4. SEEK SUPPORT
It is important to seek support from loved ones, friends, family, or even mental health workers.
I do not suggest seeking support through social media because it can have an adverse effect. More personal contact, (through texting, phone calls, zooming), with as many people as you can helps break the isolation.
5. REEVALUATING MEANING AND VALUES
Identify what is most important to you and focus on actions associated with those values as frequently as you can.
For some of my clients this entails spending time with family, helping others, focusing on personal goals -- like puzzles… lol… or exercise… or a yoga routine. Carpe diem!
Whatever it may be, an event like this can really put things into perspective.
My own strategy has consisted of contacting every person that I care about to check on them, laughing together, normalizing, and lending an ear. I am exercising more than ever, and of course taking care of home projects to stay busy and maintain a sense of normalcy.
Just a few points to help you...