While it can be tempting to leave the news on 24-7 for the latest updates and information, sometimes the constant stream of negativity and fear can do more harm than good. When you’ve learned what you need to know, and are starting to hear repetition or threatening messaging, or find it’s triggering your stress or anxiety, it’s time to unplug.
Stress weakens immune system functioning, so we need to avoid increasing our susceptibility to the virus by stressing ourselves out over the fear of catching it. Here are some helpful ways to take extra-good care of our mental health during this uncertain, rapidly-changing time:
Staying mentally well if you enter self-isolation or quarantine
Hunkering down at home can quickly feel isolated and lonely. The idea of working from home might initially seem attractive (who doesn’t love the idea of working in sweatpants?), especially if it hasn’t been an option for you before. Many of us are, in fact, highly productive at home – but having fewer reasons to leave the house each day or connect with others makes it much harder for us to meet our social needs.
While we’re all trying to make the best of our situations, don’t forget to extend an extra effort to FaceTime or call friends and family that you usually meet up with in-person. Having to isolate yourself from the public does not mean that you suddenly need less interpersonal connection. It just means that you’re going to have to work a little harder to meet those needs now that you’re not running into friends or colleagues in hallways, making small talk with your grocery store cashier, chatting with fellow parents at after-school pickup, or catching up with friends for after-work drinks or workout classes. Nurture your social connections digitally and reach out to those who may be struggling with their own isolation.
Important things to remember
Though our situation feels scary now, remember that our world has faced pandemics like this in the past. Just like with SARS, Ebola, and H1N1, the spread of Coronavirus will eventually slow down and we will find a vaccine. Though this might not be as fast as many of us would like, it will happen and we will be resilient and get through to the other side. Part of being resilient is maintaining your boundaries, and this means saying no to things you know in your gut you’re not comfortable with. This is not the time to get suckered into peer pressure. Listen to what your body and mind are trying to tell you.
If you have kids, things like this can feel even scarier to them. Make sure you reassure them that the adults have got this handled and that most of the people who are sick are also getting better. Remind them that most of the preventions being taken are out of an overabundance of caution and that they are safe with you. Explain that special precautions are being taken to protect people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Lean into your self-care a little harder than you might normally during this time. Focus on growing your resilience. Coronavirus is scary, but we’re all stronger than we think and can handle what life throws at us. We’ve made it through 100% of our bad days so far, and we can make it through these.
If it’s still too much
When we feel like we can’t cope, know when it’s time to reach out for professional help. Many counsellors, including ours at FamilySparks, can conduct their sessions digitally, via video chat, online chat, or phone. Digital sessions can keep you safe while still providing the help and care that you need. This is an opportunity to care for yourself and your family and focus on what really matters in your life.