I am overwhelmed by this pandemic. What do you suggest?
It is normal to be concerned and feel stressed about the coronavirus outbreak. You may have even noticed your blood pressure or blood sugar increase just due to the increased stress. That’s a normal response in the body, but it’s important to take steps to manage the stress and help get these back down to where they were.
Even though there are many unknowns at this point, there are still things in your control that can help to manage feelings of overwhelm and stress. The CDC recommends some of the following things you can do to support yourself and others during this time:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Our brains need alternatives from the distressing news. Watch a funny movie, listen to a podcast, or read a book
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Continue to minimize processed foods and emphasize plant-based meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. If you are staying indoors- reading, playing board games, cleaning, doing a puzzle or craft are some ways to unwind
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. There are still ways to spend time with other people and social distance. Apps such as Facetime, Skype, Google hangouts, or What’s App are all free platforms where you can video conference
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
I’m worried about making ends meet /If I can’t work for weeks, I’m concerned about paying my bills. What can I do?
The implications of the coronavirus reach beyond our physical health and many people are financially concerned. Many institutions including the federal government are actively working on mitigating the financial burden of the pandemic. There are still things within your control that you can do even if you cannot work.
- Contact your bank, utility company, or creditors if you are having trouble making payments. Many companies are encouraging customers in financial need to reach out to them directly to find a solution. Assistance programs may include things like deferring payments, making interest only payments, or forbearance for federally backed mortgages.
- Reevaluate your budget to see where you can cut down on non-essential spending. If you are staying indoors more, chances are you are spending less on outings like going to the movies or eating out.
- Contact local community resources such as places of worship or food banks (or encourage others to make donations)
It’s just all so sad. What can I do to manage my emotions?
While it can feel overwhelming at times, it’s helpful to acknowledge what you’re feeling - positive or negative. The current situation is impacting so many lives and creating hardship. We are all experiencing the impact of this situation in one way or another - we’re not alone. While we may need to social distance from others, we can find ways to support ourselves through this challenging time.
- Be mindful of what you’re thinking/feeling. Take time to check in with yourself. How is this situation making you feel? What thoughts are running through your mind without you even noticing? Sometimes we get so caught up in dealing with daily life that we don’t even realize the emotions we’re experiencing. Noting them is the first step to acknowledging them.
- Recognize that the entire globe is experiencing this pandemic together. Even if you are healthy, it’s normal to feel sad. Whether your daily routine has shifted, you’re not able to work, or any part of your life has changed in some way - we’re all facing challenges right now. Instead of comparing our hardship to others remember that we are all human going through an extraordinary set of challenges to recognize the connection between yourself and others.
- Be compassionate with yourself, the way you would to a friend or family member. Instead of criticizing how you’re feeling, think about what you would say to a loved one who was going through a difficult time. Compare that to what you’ve been telling yourself. Try speaking to yourself as you would a friend. “It’s ok. This is really hard. You’re doing the best you can.” Reminding yourself to catch negative thoughts and replace them with supportive ones may feel unnatural at first, so find language that works for you. Practicing self-compassion is one way we can comfort ourselves in order to cope with challenges.
I find myself just wanting to cry at unexpected times. What do you recommend?
Part of what makes us human is our ability to empathize with other people. We are social beings and when we know others are hurting, we too can feel some of that pain even if nobody you know has actually gotten sick. We are all losing things in this crisis, ranging from small to unimaginable. Some of us will be reminded of past losses and difficulties, which can add to the emotions of the present.
- Take the time to acknowledge how you’re feeling and express these emotions. Sometimes you’ll want to be alone, other times it can be helpful to talk about it with a friend or family member. This will look different for everyone and there is no ‘right’ way of processing this situation.
- Practice labeling how you are feeling and emotions-”I’m really sad right now”. Think about how you would respond to a loved one -”This is really hard right now. You aren’t the only one that is feeling this way”. Then say your advice back to yourself. Use your own words and repeat them as often as necessary.
- Recognize the entire globe is experiencing this pandemic and many people are feeling sad and upset. Pausing to acknowledge this can help us feel more connected and less isolated.
- Look for ways to feel gratitude. Even if it’s just the beauty of a sunrise, the joy of spring flowers, a good song. Look for all the ways people are good in this world - reaching out to help neighbors and developing new strategies of coping. There are some amazing positive stories of people pulling together to help each other out. This can be a helpful reminder of our innate goodness.
- Find small ways to help your family, neighbors and friends. Can you loan them books or share recipes? Many people are striving to find new routines and looking for strategies. A good tip can go a long way to improving someone’s situation.
- Here are some additional articles to read about gratitude and the importance of human connection.
Here are some additional articles on COVID-19 that you may find helpful: