We are living uncertain times with the pandemic of Covid-19. The outbreak and all the changes it brought about in our daily lives can bring stress and anxiety. What will the next day bring? Coping with the stress today helps us to make through to a next day with hope.
Everyone reacts differently to stress of what is happening in our world today. People who may react strongly and exhibit signs of excessive stress are:
- People who are older (over 60) and people with chronic disease.
- Children and teens
- People who are healthcare providers
- People who have mental health conditions including substance abuse.
Signs of excessive stress include changes in appetite, lack of sleeping, ruminating thoughts, use of alcohol or drugs, anger outbursts, low energy, nervousness, unexplained body aches and pain (not associated with a disease process), crying, sadness and irritability.
If you or someone you care about are expressing feeling overwhelmed with emotions, sadness, depression or feel like harming yourself or others – please call Behavioral Health Response crisis helpline at 1-855-339-1144 or Substance abuse and mental health helpline at 1800 985 5990 or text to Talk with Use to 66746.
During this time, there are things you can do to care and support yourself:
- Take breaks from reading, watching and listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body – take deep breaths, stretch, do online yoga or exercise, walk the dog outside (if you are not in quarantine or shelter in place order, and you maintain social distancing from others). Eat well balanced healthy meals, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Take care of your spirit – meditate or do centering prayer, do body prayer, read holy scriptures, read devotions, do journaling, connect with online worship, practice mindfulness and guided meditation (online resources are great for this), and listen to music. Do what nourishes your soul.
- Do activities and hobbies that you enjoy or may help you in this stressful time – paint, draw, crochet or knit, sew or fabric arts, pottery and clay, wood projects, scrapbooking, read, or do photography of objects. Or you may want to do those things that help you feel accomplished and in control such as clean the closets, or basement, all those little projects that you can do at home that you have put off. If it warm enough, and you are not quarantined or shelter in place, do some yard work by yourself.
- Take care of your community – talk or video chat with people, especially those you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Teens and children may react in different ways to what is happening with Covid-19 and stress. Some signs of stress in children and teens:
- Excessive crying and irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors that were outgrown
- Excessive worrying and sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping
- Irritability and acting out behaviors
- Decreased attention span and concentration
- Avoiding activities that they normally would do
- Unexplained body aches and pains
- With teens, use of alcohol and drugs.
There are ways we, as adults, can help our children and teens cope during this time. Here are some ways to help them as adults:
- Take time to talk realistically and developmentally appropriate about Covid-19 outbreak. Answer questions in way they can understand.
- Reassure that they are safe. Let them know it is ok to be upset. Share appropriately about your own concerns.
- Limit exposure of news coverage, including social media.
- Try to establish a routine. Create a schedule for learning activities (there are many resources online) and relaxing and fun.
- Be a good role model by taking care of yourself.
Deaconess Nurse Ministry holds you and your loved ones in our prayers. We hope that you find a way to care for yourself and your family in ways that bringing hope in this uncertain stressful time. Our God of hope and healing will be with us.
Rev. Donna Pupillo, RN