Coping with Coronavirus Worries

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Worries
Posted on 03/15/2020
Tips for coping with coronavirus worries graphic

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Worries

By: Dr. Sharon Packard, Coordinator of Mental Health Services

Learn more about signs and symptoms that you or others may be struggling to cope with stress at this time: Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Stress, worry, anxiety, fear — if you are feeling one or more of these emotions, you’re not alone. Coronavirus is starting to have a real impact on many of our lives, from cancelled travel plans to not being able to find basic products like hand sanitizer and even toilet paper! These feelings can range from mild to debilitating. Mental health professionals often say that a little bit of anxiety is actually a good thing because it motivates us to take action; however, too much anxiety can overwhelm and paralyze us.

Our collective challenge while we deal with the unknown is to stay mindful, connected, and calm. This may be easier said than done, but there are several things you can do to help yourself and your family during these stressful times.

1) Maintain the routines you can. Routines bring children and adults comfort -- we all like to know what to expect. Avoid unnecessary changes until we move past this crisis. Even routines that might seem insignificant will matter during this time, especially for children.

2) Connect with your loved ones. Social support plays an important role in our happiness and health. Although we are avoiding unnecessary contact with large crowds, connection with loved ones remains critically important. Focus on distraction-free quality time with your family. Call, video chat, and text friends and family who you might not see as frequently during this time. Allow your children to reach out to friends and family, too!

3) Limit (social) media. Agree to have screen-free time at home and work (it will help with connection and maybe even productivity). SDIRC schools will call and text you with critical information related to closures and cancellations. Stay informed, but be realistic about how frequently you actually *need* to check for coronavirus updates.

4) Manage your stress. That need to check the news constantly (see above ☝️) is likely your brain’s attempt to reduce anxiety. This information seeking can spiral out of control, though (spending time reading online articles instead of sleeping?). It’s time to prioritize self-care — healthy people are most likely to stay healthy! This means getting enough sleep, eating regularly, exercising, and doing things that bring you joy! Take advantage of daylight savings and take a nightly walk after dinner, try out yoga, meditate, practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation (you can find a number of apps, articles, and videos online), enjoy a Netflix night, journal, and talk with a friend. Make a list of other activities (big and small) with your family that help to manage your stress. Allow children to create their own stress management list, too!

5) Honor feelings and plan ahead, but be here now. It’s ok to be scared — most people will admit to feeling a little freaked out about coronavirus at this point, but what good does getting stuck in the “what if” cycle do for anyone? It doesn’t help to tell yourself to simply stop thinking about it either (this is called thought suppression and it can actually cause us to think even more about it!). Having a plan is actually a good strategy to help calm the mind, but once the plan is written and you’ve implemented what you can, it’s time to get back to your life (that moment you’re living right now!). The reality is that life must go on — children must continue their studies and most adults must continue to earn a paycheck to care for their family. This is a great opportunity to practice being mindful. Mindfulness is an awesome practice that helps people to be more connected to the present moment, as well as more in tune with their minds and bodies — all without judgment. Check out some of the resources linked below).

Learn more about how to cope with stress:

https://www.parents.com/health/healthy-happy-kids/why-and-how-to-teach-kids-mindfulness/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/breathe-mama-breathe/201605/12-simple-ways-teach-mindfulness-kids

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-use-meditation-for-teen-stress-and-anxiety/

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/parents

Learn more about school and local in our Resources for Staying Healthy & Well Guide