Tips for coping with Coronavirus - managing stress and uncertainty

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus - 

Dr. Teresa Young, PhD

People living in rural communities and on farms will be just as impacted by social distancing as those living in metropolitan areas, though perhaps in different ways. Managing stress and seeking support is still a relevant issue for folks who are isolated geographically to begin with. Below are some tips to help manage difficult emotions and stay in touch with others:

1. Know that your fears and anxieties are a normal response to an abnormal situation. Folks are concerned about an array of issues, from contracting the virus all the way to the financial burden of ceasing any activity that might spread the virus. It is absolutely expected that you will feel anxious.

2. To tolerate the uncertainty and lack of control, focus on what you can control. For some people, they are using this time to rest. For others, they are completing tasks they’ve put off doing. When I lived in Iowa, we had a bad snowstorm one year, and one of my patients decided he was going to organize paperwork that had been building up on the dining room table of his farmhouse.

3. Keep things in perspective by allowing for a more objective view. Watching the news constantly is not likely to help you feel any less anxious and will take time away from being present in the moment. Plus, news on this issue changes daily. Set limits on the time you’ll spend consuming this type of media.

4. Give equal airtime to the positives. Any number of people will gladly complain about all the setbacks they are experiencing right now. Over time, this complaining will be toxic. By choosing to acknowledge certain positive aspects of the situation, you are not negating the negative impact. Rather, you are giving yourself a more realistic view.

5. Remember this situation is about resilience and saving lives in the long term. “Flattening the curve” has been the catchphrase of the month. A counterargument to feelings of helplessness and fear is that you are doing something heroic – you are helping to prevent the spread of a virus that has already killed thousands of people worldwide.

6. Stay connected with friends and family. There are probably a few people in your life you haven’t spoken with in a while. Because most of us are at home with a load of unstructured time on our hands, call that old pal of yours and see how they’re doing. Check up on someone you’ve been worried about.

7. Remember everyone is in this situation together. The people you talk with are also social distancing. They might feel worried about a loved one. Offering them a listening ear allows you to help them make sense of their situation, too.

8. Try to engage in healthy means of coping over unhealthy ones. Some folks turn to alcohol during times of isolation, which puts you at a greater health risk. Try to limit your alcohol intake and opt for other coping behaviors, such as walking around (inside or outside), building a puzzle, or fixing things around the house.

9. A deep breath goes a long way. Sure, when someone is in the throes of anxiety, they don’t exactly love to hear about how they should “breathe.” But, the science of what deep breaths can do is no joke. At times like this one, our body’s natural response system to stress can become overactivated, which causes all kinds of health problems. Our body has another system designed to calm us down. Taking long, slow deep breaths allows that system to take over.

Video and Telephone Psychotherapy

Dr. Teresa Young, a psychologist at Generations Psychological & Consultation Services, is offering psychotherapy at a reduced rate during the statewide COVID-19 social distancing measures. Dr. Young specializes in adjustment to aging, chronic illness and disability, as well as caregiver support. Individuals with Internet access can receive psychotherapy through a secure and HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform. Individuals without Internet or who struggle with the technological aspects of videotherapy are eligible for telephone sessions. Please contact Dr. Young at (614) 328-9528 or visit her website at http://generationspsych.com/ to get in touch with her.