News associated with a pandemic causes stress for a lot of people – that’s to be expected. Sometimes stress can be a motivator to do the extra work that’s needed to stay safe in difficult times. However, too much stress gets in the way of staying calm and taking the steps needed to stay healthy.
This tip sheet helps provide ways to focus your emotional and physical energy in healthy ways to help control stress and worries while living through a pandemic.
Learn about the pandemic
It’s important to learn as much as you can from trustworthy sources – like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Wellfleetstudent.com. Having factual informality will help put you in control and reduce stress caused by uncertainty.
While staying informed about the situation is important, try to tune in to other entertainment. The constant flood of pandemic information can increase your worries and make the situation seem too difficult to cope with. By making yourself aware of what you need to know, you’re better able to care for yourself and your loved ones. Here are some of the most important facts to be aware of:
- Symptoms of the illness
- How the illness is spread
- The best ways to protect against the illness
- What to do if someone at home has “illness-like” symptoms
- When and how to seek medical care for the illness
- What is needed and how to care for someone at home with the illness
- Where to learn if local schools, work, or other places are closing
Planning ahead to help protect against the illness is one of the best steps you can take. By being proactive, you may be better able to keep or effectively alter your daily routines. This sense of normalcy can also help reduce stress. Here are some things to be mindful of in your planning as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Keep daily routines as much as possible. They provide reassurance, relief and normalcy during times of crisis.
- Teach family members good health practices, like covering sneezes and coughs, and to wash their hands often and thoroughly.
- Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get enough rest to feel refreshed each day.
- Teach kids to keep their hands away from their mouths, nose, and eyes as much as possible.
- Make a list of doctors, pharmacy, family, and emergency contact numbers for each family member.
- Check that doctor-prescribed medicines are updated and filled for all family members.
- Stock your home with a 2-week supply of water, food, batteries, and medical supplies (for pets too).
- Support family members by listening and talking. Learn what your loved ones have head about the pandemic, address their concerns, and talk with them about how you (and doctors) are prepared to care for them.
- Build resilience in family members – identify and discuss thoughts and feelings, ways to respond appropriately, and help them find healthy ways to “de-stress”
Protect yourself and your loved ones
Empower yourself and your loved ones by staying updated during and beyond the pandemic phase, because things change from day-to-day. It’s also so important to maintain and develop your support systems, as sharing concerns with others can help reduce your stress. Furthermore, accept that you’re unable to control everything around you and you’re doing the best you can given the circumstances. To help quell your concerns, here are some helpful tips provided by Ready.gov
- Continue to follow good health practices.
- Realize that fear is a natural human emotion and keep taking steps to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Lower the demands on yourself and others when the pandemic is at its worst and many people are sick.
- Know that feelings of fear, grief, loneliness, stress, and panic are normal reactions during stressful times.
- Practice positive self-talk and positive thinking to help combat negative feelings.
- Make use of community services, like supplemental food and shelter assistance as needed – call 211 for information on what is available.
Expect change and respond wisely
If there’s one certainty, it’s that dealing with a pandemic leads to uncertainty. Daily schedules may be disrupted due to school or business closings. So, being flexible but realistic when modifying your schedules and goals is key to managing stress.
If you feel like you’re not sure how to cope with stress during a pandemic or that the situation is overwhelming, don’t wait, reach out for help. Wellfleet Student members are encouraged to use CareConnect, to be connected with a licenced therapist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
CareConnect counselors provide in-the-moment support and determine the most clinically-appropriate next step. This includes counseling, or referrals to the Student Health Center, medical provider, or emergency services.