In recognition of May Is Better Hearing Month…take time to take care of yourself in this challenging and uncertain time.
How are you feeling since the COVID-19 outbreak? Really…how are you coping in this time of uncertainty? If you are losing sleep, feeling stressed and anxious, and having difficulty concentrating, you are not alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) offers several strategies to cope with stress that will make you, your loved ones, and your community stronger.
First, recognize that everyone will react differently to the outbreak. Individuals with stronger emotional reactions may include health-care workers, individuals who are at high risk for severe illness, children and teens, and those with mental health issues.
Second, identify coping strategies that may help you, your family, and your friends (Table 1).
|Table 1. Coping Strategies Recommended by the CDC|
|Take a break.||Take time off from the news and social media related to the pandemic.|
|Eat healthy.||Prepare well-balanced meals; avoid alcohol and drugs.|
|Rest your mind.||Use deep breathing, meditation, and stretching to relax.|
|Exercise.||Try to exercise every day; get outside when you can.|
|Unwind.||Participate in fun activities or hobbies; learn a new skill.|
|Stay connected.||Connect with family and friends via phone, video chat, text messages, email, and social media.|
|Take care of your mental health.||Recognize when you need help from a healthcare provider; be aware of new or worsening conditions.|
|Support children in your immediate or extended family.||Talk to children and help answer questions, reassure their safety, limit news exposure, maintain routines, plan family fun, and be a role model.|
|Adapted from the CDC (2019)|
Protecting your metal health is one of the most critical actions during this pandemic (Marshall, 2020). The inability to control what is going on in our communities will cause many people high levels of stress and anxiety, those with diagnosed mental health issues.
Dr. Marshall (2020) encourages us to take control by choosing our response to the uncertainty and to use the following strategies (Table 2).
|Table 2. Ways to Address Mental Health in Times of Uncertainty|
|Determine what you can and cannot control.||You can control—handwashing, reminding others to wash their hands, taking vitamins, and limiting media coverage|
|Do what helps you feel safe.||Do not compare yourself to others; find what strategies and actions make you feel safe; avoid isolation due to depression.|
|Go outside and get some exercise.||Get some vitamin D and fresh air even if you are avoiding people. Exercise helps your physical and mental health.|
|Stay in the present.||Do not try to predict the future; gently bring yourself back to the present. Be mindful of the sights and sounds around you in that moment.|
|Stay connected.||Talk to trusted friends and family about your feelings|
|Know when you need more support.||Seek help from a trained professional; you do not have to be alone with your worry.|
|Adapted from Marshall (2020)|
As we journey through this difficult time together, please know you are not alone. We are all struggling and having feelings of uncertainty. As Dr. Marshall reminds us, we have a choice about the way we respond to this crisis, and we can choose to take constructive steps to manage our stress and anxiety.