This is a time of great uncertainty. It’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, confusion, or loneliness. It is also a time to take extra care to address your feelings and keep them from paralyzing or overwhelming you.
Get the facts. Our emotional responses come from the part of our brain that specializes in survival and gives us extra energy to fight or flee. Very useful! But we need the thinking part of our brain to take charge and analyze the facts for a balanced, healthy perspective. Use reliable sources of information, such as the Centers for Disease Control (coronavirus.gov) and our local health department (http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/).
Give yourself a sensible media diet. Limit the amount of time you consume news each day. Avoid sensational sources that concentrate on what’s going wrong. Feed yourself information that is empowering (what you can do). Verify anything you hear on social media, even from friends.
Focus on what you can do. We are most afraid when things feel out of control. While a global pandemic may feel overwhelming, we do have tremendous power to limit this virus with simple, individual actions, such as handwashing and social distancing.
Stay safely connected with friends and family. It’s good to share your feelings. AND make sure to talk about topics besides Covid-19. If you are “sheltering at home,” use the phone, texting, email, and social media to stay connected. If you have access to FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, use them! Video visiting is a good alternative to in-person interaction.
Take care of your body. Eat wisely and pay attention to getting good, sound sleep. Avoid caffeine, which is anxiety producing. Take time to exercise, and spend time outdoors. Even “shelter-in-place” communities encourage walking outdoors. Just maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from others. Keep up with your medications, especially those for depression and anxiety. Avoid increased use of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Replenish your spirit. Prolonged stress has been shown to compromise the immune system. What do you usually do to manage stress and lift up your spirits? Find time to invest in your mental health—and your resistance to viruses—by specifically scheduling activities that help you feel calm and grounded.
Get professional help. If you find you are overwhelmed by your feelings and unable to function very well for 2–3 days, seek professional help. If you don’t know who to turn to, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
Can we support you?
At Gentle Shepherd Hospice we are the Roanoke and Lynchburg experts in family caregiving. We also understand the public health system and are adept at finding solutions. If you are worried about your loved one, give us a call 1-800-789-0586 (toll-free).