Staying calm and managing anxiety
The spread of COVID-19 hit the pause button on "normal life." Many Americans are so worried about the physical health and economic stability that mental health becomes an afterthought. Worry can become consuming, especially if you're following the news or the stockmarket. Starting this week, add in homeschooling and entertaining 'bored' children while working from home. Now try to be productive while working remotely. We understand, and we know it isn't always easy. So what can you do to stay calm and manage these anxieties?
Find the positives.
When you wake up in the morning, pat yourself on the back. You should be rewarded for staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maybe you are rewarded with family time or peaceful time for yourself. Maybe you finally have an opportunity to focus on self-improvement in areas such as fitness, mental health, relationship skills, spirituality and creativity. Now you are finally home long enough to channel your inner Marie Kondo and organize your closets or garage. You now have a pet-friendly workplace and can show off your furry friends, even to that friend with allergies. How are you being rewarded?
Go on a news diet.
Are the news and volatile stock market reports getting you down lately? Maybe it is time to curb your daily intake. According to James Kendall, LCSW, CEAP, of Vanderbilt University, “sensationalized stories add to our angst and panic. The stock market has responded with a downturn, and many are unsure whether to travel or attend social gatherings. It may be similar to our response to other stressful world events: HIV, H1N1, SARS, mass shootings and 9/11.” How to start? Turn off all phone and computer notifications related to news. Uninstall your most addictive news / social media apps from your phone. Ask your friends and families for updates instead.
This information can come from a variety of sources other than the news, like the University, health officials and state and local governments. Stay informed with fact-based information from reliable sources, including those listed on this site. Avoid feeding into or fueling speculation or panic that is prevalent during such global events. Here are some reliable sources with the latest information.
The Coronavirus can live on some surfaces for up to three days and is transmitted through the air when in close proximity (six feet or fewer) to a person who is infected. As some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and the incubation period is 14 days, it is best to maintain a distance from all people except for those in your immediate household, even if they are not showing symptoms or aware of any exposure.
Prevent the spread.
We cannot emphasize strongly enough the value of practicing daily health precautions and proper hygiene, and to follow the information from the sources listed on this site.
What do you need to do to preserve or improve your health and happiness? Perhaps the following questions can help. Are you getting enough sleep and maintaining a regular sleep schedule? Are you eating healthy to avoid the #quarantine15 weight gain, or are you feeding your anxiety with comfort food? Are you as hygienic as you usually are? Have you made time for yourself, or does work and family always come first? Do you feel intellectually stimulated and socially engaged? Is there something extra you can do for yourself?
If you are prone to depression or have recently experienced negative events in your life, isolation can be dangerous. It is crucial for you to stay in touch for your mental and emotional well-being. Stop and think about who you know that this might apply to and reach out to them regularly. Let them know they are not alone. Even if you are not at risk for depression, staying in contact with your supervisor and teammates can help you stay motivated, productive and satisfied with your job. It is recommended that you remotely meet with your team online at least twice a week, either formally or informally.
Our community has more in common now than possibly ever before in your lifetime. You can volunteer to help the community by making masks and gowns from home, or even grocery shop for individuals who are at greater risk for COVID-19 complications. Check on your elderly or at-risk neighbors to see if there is anything they need. Support local restaurants and businesses by ordering takeout or delivery. Pay the housekeeper to stay home and self-isolate. If your hair appointment is cancelled, send a generous tip online to your stylist. When you are shopping, say "thank you for being here" to the workers bravely coming to work despite the risk.
Why cancel wine night, book club, music practice, game nights, birthday celebrations or dinner parties when you can still have them remotely? Try hosting an online social event with friends using Zoom or Teams. If you are a musician, schedule a remote jam session with fellow musicians. Find online party games that can be played with friends remotely. Have a watching party for one of the free live concerts being offered online from your favorite musicians' homes.