Learning to cope with the stress of a pandemic
For the first time in 40 years, on June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the start of a flu pandemic. The CDC estimated that between 151,700 and 575,400 people died worldwide from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year of circulation. This virus was detected first in the United States in April 2009 before quickly spreading throughout the rest of the world.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared another pandemic with it being called Coronavirus or COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 was thought to be serious enough for the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic, there were still some leaders that did not heed the warnings and take proper actions.
The same leader or leaders that did not take COVID-19 seriously, spent months saying it was nothing more than a hoax and then claiming it was not even as serious as the normal flu. I find the ignorance and shame it takes to call this deadly virus the Chinese virus simply because it began in China absolutely ridiculous. I mean, no one ever referred to H1N1 as the American virus because it began in the United States, so what gives anyone the right to call COVID-19 the Chinese virus or any other demeaning name they think of?
There is one leader in particular that continues to blame everyone else for the virus but fails to blame the person he sees in the mirror every day for the 129,545 American’s that died because of this virus. Worldwide there have been more than 511,000 people who lost their lives due to COVID-19. We will never know now if only action was taken sooner not as many people would have had to die.
There is no denying the fact that being faced with a pandemic, which has already taken the lives of many, is stressful. Most of us have been overwhelmed with distress and anxiety due to this virus. Although actions such as social distancing are imperative for safety reasons, it can cause additional stress and anxiety from being isolated and lonely.
As we continue undergoing the pandemic of an infectious disease outbreak, there are several other issues that we may experience, including but not limited to the following:
– Fear for your health and the health of your loved ones
– Worry for your financial situation and or job security
– Changes in your sleep and or eating patterns
– Troubles sleeping and or concentrating
– Decline in chronic health problems
– Intensifying issues of mental health issues
– Increased use of tobacco and or alcohol and other substances
Everyone responds to stressful situations differently. Even though we dealt with the H1N1 pandemic back in 2009, I do not remember being as concerned and terrified as I have been with COVID-19. The crazy thing is during 2009, I worked for a hospital system with the Employee Health Department. I had constant interaction with people that tested positive for the flu, but never really worried. Of course, I wore a mask and washed my hands multiple times a day and thankfully never got the flu.
I do realize I am not the only one that remains worried about COVID-10, but I can also understand there is no amount of worrying that will make this situation any easier. Granted even if we lived next door to each other, chances are we wouldn’t be able to see one another and would only be able to offer support virtually. We can do this now and help each other to lessen the massive burdens of stress we are all enduring.
I am going to share a few ideas I discovered that will hopefully help reduce the stress we have all been trying our best to manage.
1. Limit Media Time-
Most people have already proven the ability to practice social distancing to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. With already understanding the importance of social distancing for the good of our health, we should be able to understand why distancing ourselves from the media would be in the best interest of our mental well-being. It seems like the media has 24/7 COVID coverage, which can be beneficial in small doses but can also be very negative causing additional anxiety for those who already had concerns. If you are anything like me (I am so sorry for you), you are already feeling extreme anxiousness. When we are becoming more anxious, we should consider taking a break from all news outlets and the view the news only twice a day at most!
2. Stop Engaging with worry-
Regardless if you are worried about yourself or a loved one contracting the virus or being out of work, the more you focus your attention on the worst-case scenarios, the more anxious and stressed you will feel. Of course, we are not able to stop thoughts from entering our minds, but we can choose to not dwell on those thoughts and instead decide to take action towards solving the problems at hand. I think we are all logical enough to understand the enormous differences between worrying and solving the problems we face. Our mind will often try to bait us into worrying, so we need to avoid taking that bait. Our feelings of anxiety will try baiting us with the many “what if” questions that we need to try avoiding answering because it only leads us down dark and endless roads. During times like these, we need to focus our attention elsewhere and on the more positive aspects. I do know during these stressful times, finding the silver lining might be challenging, but it is there.
3. Do not react to physical symptoms-
Just because you or someone around you coughs does not mean it is because of COVID-19. People have allergies, bronchitis, post-nasal drip, or a common cold and these issues are the much more likely explanation. We all know the seasons can cause numerous issues, so it is best to not assume COVID-19 every time you so much as hear a cough, but being aware of your surroundings and following safety protocols should always be followed. For your mental health and well-being, do not continuously scan your body searching for COVID-19 symptoms. The only things this behavior will do is cause unnecessary worry and intensify our already high anxiety levels.
4. Focus on productivity and newer ways of enjoyment-
Unfortunately, we do not have any control over the crisis the world is experiencing currently and the only thing we can control is our response. How many times in the past were you overloaded with work and maintaining your home, but discovered something new you wanted to try? With how much our everyday lives have changed and we are now living our “new normal”, we might finally through no fault of our own have time for new adventures. We can learn a new skill or fine-tune something we used to do back before life got crazy with work and family. Now is the time to put our attention on creating and accomplishing, instead of the virus and or our employment status.
5. Seize the moment in stress-reducing activities-
There are numerous different things we can try that could help reduce the vast amount of stress we might be experiencing during these trying times. As few ideas may include focusing on the things we are grateful for, exercising our bodies, guided meditation, and yoga are things that may help us relax our minds. Anything we may want to learn can easily be found on YouTube; there are many simple videos to follow along with on just about anything we can think of. Just think, once we are finally past this crisis we will not only have learned something new, but also appreciate all the simple things in life we may have taken for granted before such as dinner out at our favorite restaurant, a night out at the movies, and even something as simple as a haircut.
6. Follow CDC guidelines, but do not go overboard-
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sing happy birthday or twinkle, twinkle little star, whichever you prefer. This does not mean washing your hands until they are red and dry. In the event soap and water isn’t available, you can use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others outside your home. Wear face covering when around others out in the public. Despite what some might say, it is not necessary to remove all your clothing before entering your home.
7. Maintain a sense of normalcy-
During these crazy times, it may be challenging to continue your day as you normally would with some modifications, so this could require adding a little creativity. Before the pandemic, you may have gone to the gym for your workout, but now you have to work out in your home. Instead of dinner out with friends, maybe you have dinner or drinks by a video platform. Continuing life with a structure to our day and any type of an appearance of normalcy will help reduce any additional anxieties.
8. Show kindness for yourself and others-
During a time of national crisis, it is normal to feel anxious and worried. Remember while you are having these feelings, people you know are probably having the same feelings. Reaching out to family, friends, and neighbors who have been isolated, the same as all the rest of us may need a little boost in their spirits. Sometimes a simple phone call will not only heighten our spirits but also improve the person on the other end of the phone mood as well. If you are currently unemployed because of the pandemic, your new job is to have faith that this storm in life will pass and something new will come along and everything will work out for the best!
I meant to have this post out yesterday, but obviously wasn’t able to. For some unknown reason I had a lack in motivation and also continued getting distracted with many other things. I guess maybe it was the mixture of emotions I am feeling for starting my new job Monday. I am not overly nervous or excited; it is pretty much a good balance between the two. I have been out of work for many months now and honestly I have not ever worked from home on a permanent basis. I know I will be able to handle the work from home status well because I have always been extremely organized and disciplined. I did work in the same industry my work from home job is for several years prior to my husband and I relocated and did very well with it. If I am not mistaken the work I am going to be doing is almost exactly the same, but I have heard from a reliable resource that my new company is far more organized than the company I worked for previously.
Thank you for stopping by my site today and I do hope this information was helpful for you! I did only list 8 possible stress relieving ideas, but I do know there are many more and you probably already have some. I do hope you will share your thoughts on this important topic because it will help anyone that reads this. I hope your week is going well, you are feeling the best you possibly can, and you are continuing to remain safe. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, and many positive vibes!
Reblogged this on Survivors Blog Here.
Fabulous post, Alyssa!! And you’re right, no amount of worrying will change the situation or make it any easier. In fact, more stress will only serve to weaken the immune system, so in theory we’re making ourselves more vulnerable. I do think my fear and worry may be a good thing in a sense because after it was suspected I had the virus, I became 100x more prepared, more cautious, more aware. I need to be like that for my family as I live with elderly parents, so some degree of the heightened awareness and worry is good as it keeps me constantly on the ball. But, it comes at a cost. My mental health has taken a big knock, and I know we’re not alone in feeling the strain with it all. The government has pissed me off no end (sorry for the language) and the way people have been treated has been utterly heartbreaking. When you see stuff about the ‘Chinese virus’ and violence towards the Chinese it just adds insult to injury with all the ignorance. It’s important to step away from time to time, limit our news and social media consumption, and find some positive, comforting and uplifting things to focus our attention on. Great suggestions lovely, I hope you can re-read your own post when you find things all getting a bit too much.
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Thank you so much Caz! I know this virus does cause huge issues for our mental well-being, but we just need to stay safe and protected. Please, no worries about language, I have said far worst about my feelings for the government. They have pissed me off so much that It think I created new ugly words that are a combination of two of more! I do think that social media has played a huge role in dumbing down some Americans into believing the lies that leave Trumps mouth. I have never disliked someone so much that I never met, but this man and the VP have changed my beliefs in humanity. It makes me so mad when I hear Trump or his cult followers call COVID-19 the Chinese virus. Truth is, China did notify government officials about the virus, but they choose to ignore the warnings. I do have to constantly remind myself about somethings when I get so upset and stressed about the virus, but for some reason I do not have the ability to not cry when I hear what some have gone through. I think maybe, I am just way too overly emotional. I hope you continue to stay safe and your parents also stay safe! xxxx
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