It’s on your social media. It’s on the TV. It’s the conversation at work (or online chat if you’re working from home.)
COVID-19, the current coronavirus pandemic., took over almost every part of our lives beginning in March. The government temporarily closed businesses and schools, and encouraged social distancing and then self-isolation. For weeks the virus that emerged in China has dominated the 24/7 news cycle, deepening fears and raising anxiety.
Under the circumstances, it’s easy to lose one’s cool. So, what can you do to stay calm and productive during such an uncertain time? Emily Vera, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Delaware, offers advice on how to step back and take a breather.
It’s important to understand “what you can control versus what you can’t,” Vera says.
One way to do this is to practice mindfulness exercises that bring you back into the present. This includes the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique that helps during anxious moments. Vera explains that people should take a breath and then reflect on the following: five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
While the news surrounding COVID-19 is nonstop, Vera says it’s important “not to dwell” on it all day.
How much you read or watch the news is up to you, she explains. While she suggests once a day, it really depends on the person and what is best for you.
As more businesses close and we are encouraged to distance ourselves more and more from others, it can begin to feel like a lonely time. But Vera explains that social distancing doesn’t have to mean you don’t connect with your family and friends or your environment. Take a walk outside, move your gym workout outdoors, and connect with small groups of three to four people. Plus, with social media and cell phones, everyone is a call away.
When times are stressful or scary, it can be easy to turn to vices that help shut out the noise. But excessive drinking or drug use are not what people should be turning to, she says, reminding people that if they need to talk with a mental healthcare professional, most are only a phone call or video chat away.
And if things escalate, Vera always offers the the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 during times of need.