January seems like a long time ago. All the news was about politics. Most of us had never heard the term “social distancing” much less imagined we would be shutting down everything from restaurants to weddings, graduations, and sports seasons. The stress and uncertainty can certainly take their toll. The American Red Cross recently put out a great list of steps to take to better manage the emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic. The following steps are not only a good idea to implement in your life but also solid advice for family and friends.
- Stay informed with accurate, reliable information through trusted resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Limit exposure to media coverage, especially for children, and avoid social media accounts and news outlets that promote fear or rumors.
- Connect with family and friends through video and phone calls, texts, or social media. Offer your support.
- Take care of yourself and monitor the physical health needs of your loved ones. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest. Unless you are showing signs of illness or have tested positive for COVID-19, going outside to exercise and walk pets is okay. But don’t forget to practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from others.
- Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions, such as fear, anger, frustration and anxiety. Hold an image in your mind of the best possible outcome. Make a list of your personal strengths and use these to help both yourself and others stay emotionally strong.
- Encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts. Reassure them about their safety. Use language that is normal and consistent with how you usually communicate. Be creative and think of fun activities that will occupy their time. Keep a schedule, set appropriate limits, and maintain usual rules when possible.
- Relax your body often by doing things that work for you — take deep breaths, stretch or meditate, or engage in activities you enjoy. If you are religious or spiritual, follow practices at home that provide you with comfort and emotional strength.
- Pace yourself between stressful activities, and do something fun after a hard task.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected. We are here for you.