Crisis at Hand
We are facing an incredibly stressful and unprecedented situation relating to the onset and spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). There has been an onslaught of information regarding how to keep oneself and one’s family and friends safe from contracting the virus itself. For instance, we have all been told to stay home if possible, practice social distancing, wash your hands for 20 seconds, etc. However, what might be lacking is information designed to assist people with the emotional stress that might result from such a widespread sense of panic. It is quite possible that this situation will result in social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, obsessive thinking, excessive worry and fear, and even symptoms of depression. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some helpful thoughts and suggestions on managing stress during this time. Foundation for Stress Management First of all, it is extremely important to remember that, in any time of stress, the first step in managing potential emotional difficulty is to keep in mind the basic strategies for good self-care. The fundamental approaches to maintaining good selfcare include, but are not limited to, eating a well-balanced/ nutritious diet, staying hydrated, getting enough exercise, and staying well-rested. By maintaining physical strength and health, you will not only strengthen your immune system to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or suffering severe reactions to it, but you will also build a strong physical foundation for being able to successfully manage the situation and potential emotional distress to follow.
Social Isolation and Potential Loneliness
Once you are able to maintain the physical strength and health that will increase your ability to maintain emotional health, there are additional things that can be done. If you share your home with a partner, family members, roommates, or others, you might be in a good position to avoid isolation and loneliness. If you happen to live alone and are following the advice to practice social distancing and staying at home, it will be extremely important to stay connected with family and friends. Fortunately, we live in an age in which technology makes it possible to stay connected and it is important to reach out via email, texting, phone, social media, etc. It is even possible to talk via phone or computer and see your loved ones through programs such as FaceTime and Skype. Another great idea for staying connected is to go live on Facebook for your friends to see you and share in conversations among your social groups.
Be Mindful of the Reliability of Information Sources
Just as it is important to stay connected and social media is a great way to do this, it is also important to remember that there is a great deal of misinformation going around on social media sites. Information that might not be 100% accurate leads to widespread panic. Therefore, if you utilize this strategy to stay connected, do so is a way that does not feed anxiety, worry, and fear. It is important to verify information with a reliable source before reacting to it. Be cautious of the news sources presenting information and always double check facts with sources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Be on the lookout for contradictory information and be wary of information that seems emotionally overactive or questionable due to inconsistencies. Continuous exposure to the news is not a helpful strategy for managing stress or anxiety. Pick a few trusted news sources and create a plan for when, where or how you will access the news. For example, checking a particular website only three times per day or watching the 5:30 pm national news and local news once per day. Also, identify how and when you provide factual updates to children and ensure conversations that you have with and in front of children are developmentally appropriate. Staying informed with accurate information and avoiding over exposure to COVID-19 information are equally important to your overall safety and well-being.
Specific Tips for Telecommuting: From Michael Harper, M.Ed., Fitness Wellness
1. Have a normal morning routine (whatever that is for you) and don’t start working the moment you wake up. Hold off on Jabbering, texting, and emailing until you feel human.
2. Get dressed (shower and brush your teeth, too!), even if this means putting on a clean set of “day” pajamas. Do something to feel pulled together and ready to start your day.
3. Set daily SMART goals and write them down.
4. Tackle high-priority tasks first.
5. Take a lunch break! Go for a walk. Get some sunshine in your back yard. Eat a nutritious lunch (don’t just munch your way through quarantine snacks!).
6. If you have the time, make learning a priority. Read that leadership book you have been meaning to get to. Watch a YouTube video to learn more about Excel. Take a free LinkedIn class.
7. Identify the end of your workday and stick to it.
To remain grounded during times of uncertainty, it is also helpful to practice relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Reading encouraging affirmations everyday throughout the day, taking breaks to go outside for fresh air, listening to soothing music, and spending time in nature are just a
few ideas for helping to stay calm and keeping perspective. (Read the Bible—listen to some ole fashion Southern Gospel music!) JA
If I can help you, feel free to give me a call.