Our rapidly changing public health situation evokes a wide range of expectable emotional reactions in all of us.
Many people are experiencing symptoms of acute stress, which may include:
- Shock, feeling unreal, emotionally detached, or numb
- Anxiety which may include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and other panic attack symptoms
- Hopelessness or feeling a lack of purpose in work and/or academics
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Increased irritability or anger
- Crying more often than usual
- Sleep problems
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Feeling more fatigued
- Headache, stomach ache or other pain
- Use of alcohol or substances to cope with stress
Most people are also struggling with reactions specific to the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Worry about contamination
- Anxiety about you and/or loved ones getting ill
- Preoccupation with possible signs/symptoms of illness
- Social withdrawal or feeling alone and isolated
- Anger and/or lack of trust in people and systems
- Media and information overload
Though our lives are more restricted, there are many possible ways to cope. Remind yourself continually of what you CAN control- and read below for some additional ideas on how to cope.
- Remind yourself that this situation is temporary and will pass.
- Think of other times you have overcome adversity.
- See this as an opportunity to recognize and be grateful for all the people and good you have in your life.
- Reach out to the people you love and value even from afar. Connections to people keep us emotionally healthy.
- Focus on being mindful. Be present in your everyday activities. For instance, you can practice this when you wash your hands by focusing on the movements, sensations, smells and other aspects of this activity.
- Prioritize healthy eating and sleep habits.
- Participate in some physical activity, which can help boost your immune system and energy levels, improve your sleep, and decrease stress.
- Meditate. It is not as hard as it seems and there are some apps and links below to give you a jump start.
- Stay informed, but dose information to once or twice a day. Make sure your sources are reliable and do not listen to information before bed.
- Create regular “no-coronavirus” zones personally and with others.
- Keep doing what you enjoy and what relaxes you: listening to music, watching TV, talking to friends, taking a bath, cooking, coloring, etc.
- Don’t underestimate the power of BREATHING. Wherever you are, focus on breathing in… holding your breath for a few seconds… and breathing back out. (See below for additional ways to practice breathing.)
- Share your feelings with others or journal.
- Seek support professionals if needed, including the Counseling Center.
For immediate help and relief, try the following
- COVID Coach App (PDF)
- Body Scan Meditation
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Breathing Exercise
There are also many other similar resources online with different music, voices and methods.
And if you like experiential apps, here are some to download:
- Insighttimer (has sleep component)
- Stop, Breathe, Think
- Headspace (has sleep component)
- The Mindfulness App
- Mindfulness Coach
- Calm (has sleep component)
- Relax Change Create
- Colorify (a coloring book to destress)
Sleep (also see some apps above)
For those who would like to read more, feel free to explore
- Our own Stress Management Tips
- Shine’s Virus Anxiety Toolkit
- From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty
- From the CDC, Mental Health and Coping During COVIVD-19
- From the CDC, Reducing Stigma
- From SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
- From the NY Times, A Brain Hack to Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle
- From The Conversation, 7 Science-Based Strategies to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety
- From Thrive Global, 6 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Anxiety about the Coronavirus
- From Onbeing, A Listening Care Package for Uncertain Times (a collection of podcasts and poetry)
- From Yoga Journal, Stressed About Coronavirus? Here's How Yoga Can Help
- From Mindful, How Mindfulness Can Help You Navigate the Coronavirus Panic
- From Lizzo, A Meditation and Mantra to Promote Global Healing (30m)
- From Yo-Yo Ma, Songs of Comfort
- From NPR and Spotify, A Playlist with 6 Hours of Soothing Music
With knowledge, tools, and the support of others, we will all navigate and find our way through this uncertain time together. Please reach out to us at the Counseling Center.