Hundreds of millions of us are currently at home, surviving a pandemic. Heightened anxiety, fear and panic is our new reality. Touching and hugging are non-existent, and even among loved ones, while sheltering in place, anxiety over our bodies touching, is always subconsciously present.
Life as we know it has changed, yet the bills keep pilling up, although for some, paychecks have stopped coming. We don’t know how long we will be inside, we also don’t know how many people we will lose to this virus. The news reminds us of the importance of physical routine and hygiene: wash your hands, stay six feet away, cover your face, go for walks, etc. But the rules for good mental health are not so clear, or so readily mentioned. As mental health providers, human resources consultants and trauma specialists, we know that mentally, the worst is yet to come.
We want to remind you that stress during a pandemic can look differently for everyone. Pay attention to signs such as:
- Intense fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones;
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, or other drugs
We also want to suggest some ways to protect your mental health during this time:
- Stay connected (on line, video chat, phone, etc.) with people, especially if you are living alone;
- Limit your access to the news – set times when you want to check on what’s happening and to be updated, but don’t constantly follow the news. If you have popups on your phone from different apps alerting you to the newest information, turn them off;
- Find a purpose – being useful is essential to one’s self worth and mental health. For example: leave food for an elderly neighbor, volunteer on-line, etc.
- Try going for walks – nature has a way of helping us rejuvenate and find hope;
- Don’t worry about being productive – we encourage both workers and managers and CEOs alike to be mindful that we are not working remotely during this time, we are forced to stay home during a pandemic, while also attempting to do some work;
- Create a routine – as it will help you feel more grounded;
- Keep your mental health appointments, or reach out to a therapist. During this time it is essential to seek out the help of a mental health professional to help you deal with the many layers of this collective and individual trauma;
- Lastly, give yourself permission to fall apart;
During these difficult times, we are here for you. Our clinicians continue to provide the highest standard of care using telephone and online tools, and under extreme need for more support, in person. For agencies and businesses struggling with this transition or planning for the return to work, we are working diligently with you. Our training classes have moved to a virtual learning model for now. Supervisors and trainees are using video conferencing and other online tools to continue their work together.
We wish you and your family good health. Stay safe!