Psychological Coping During COVID-19 (17/03/2020)

Psychological Coping During COVID-19

Stay Informed – Not Overloaded

  • Make sure you are properly informed – check provincial and national websites, as well as reputable local news agencies
  • Limit your news exposure (e.g., twice a day, then actively avoid the rest of the time)
  • Monitor your use of social media – may help you to feel connected, but may also make you feel overwhelmed, anxious.

Managing Your Stress

  • Keep things in perspective.  Although these measures feel drastic, they are designed to be proactive/preventative rather than reactive. 
  • Limit the amount of discussion/small talk about the virus.  Generally not helpful other than to increase stress
  • Take care of your physical health – gyms may be closed, but get creative with ways to exercise – walking outdoors if possible.  Monitor eating habits and use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis
  • Make use of online resources – anxietycanada, MindShift, Calm, - lots of options available, explore and find the one that works for you
  • Acknowledge that there are many things in your control, that you can actively do – washing hands, social distancing etc. 

When you already have anxiety?

  • Try to make rational decisions, not ones guided by panic.  Connect with friends/family for perspective.  Panic is more contagious than viruses!
  • Engage in extra self-care.  Acknowledge that this may be extra challenging for you, and reach out for social support. 
  • If you’re uncertain if your actions are due to Anxiety/OCD (e.g. hand washing/germ contamination fears), follow government recommendations, and check in with friends and family for comparison
  • Be Mindful – grounding exercises (e.g. the 5 senses), breathing and muscle relaxation, exercising and getting fresh air ca help
  • Set boundaries with friends and family re discussion of the virus – “these conversations are a trigger for me, so I’d like to make sure we talk about something else”

Coping with Uncertainty

  • The concept of “closed until further notice” is frightening for many.  As much as possible, focus on short-term planning and goals – one day, or week at a time. 
  • Add as much structure into your routine as possible to help with the uncertainty.  Set measurable, achievable goals (e.g. this week the kids and I are going to clean out their closets) and celebrate each small goal and achievement

Helping Kids

  • Ask what they know, what they are concerned about
  • Don’t minimize fears, rather provide reassurance and age-appropriate accurate information
  • Remind them of the areas over which they have control – hand washing, social distancing
  • Help them keep a routine even while out of school.  Include time for academics (can include reading, fun academic games), chores, independent play, family play, and yes, even some extra time for electronics!  Maybe now is the time to explore some family-friendly cooperative video games and crafts, board games, puzzles etc. 
  • Help them explore a hobby – develop cooking skills, time to practice/learn an instrument
  • Help them stay connected to their friends – for teens some videogames may be the main source for this
  • Sesame Street Breathe App

Helping the Community

  • If you have the means, consider ways to help out the community – donations to food banks, community organizations, extra groceries for neighbours, gift cards for local small businesses/restaurants/theatre to use in the future
  • Check in on neighbours, particular those who are more vulnerable. 
  • Reach out and ask for help if you need it

Coping With Cabin Fever

Symptoms: increased irritability, restlessness, lack of motivation, boredom, increased sleeping and eating, difficulty focusing, increased risky behaviours

- get outside - even stand in your doorway or crack open a window a tiny bit to get some fresh air. Exercise and exposure to sunlight will help with endorphins and serotonin (they'll make you feel better)
- try to keep to a normal sleeping and eating routine (substitute at least a few of those storm chips for fruit/veggies if you can)
- find active distraction - tv/Netflix is passive distraction and doesn't engage your brain. Active activities include reading, playing a board game or cards, doing a craft, puzzles etc

When to seek professional help

If you're really feeling overwhelmed, reach out - call a friend/family member, or the Mental Health Crisis Line: (709) 737-4668 Toll-free: 1-888-737-4668  www.apnl.ca to Find a Psychologist, 811/Doorways programs

We'll get through this!

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