Tips to Cope during COVID-19 by Dr. Ee’a Jones ~ April 2020
We are in precarious times right now. There is no model for us to follow so we’re adjusting as we go navigate through this Of course, I’m talking about the coronavirus pandemic that has led to the COVID-19 disease and deaths. As of today, the numbers are steadily rising, and most areas have been asked to shelter in place. That means we are to only move for essential reasons (i.e., groceries, supplies needed to sustain our existence, medical appointments, etc.). Persons considered essential workers can go back and forth to work as well. Those persons include healthcare, grocery, and restaurant staff at this point.
We’ve had to make so many changes in the last few weeks creating a new normal for ourselves. And we are not alone in this; this is a new normal for the world. When I think of how people, companies, and students are affected, it can be overwhelming if not kept in perspective. We are all being affected in ways we could not have imagined. We can’t go to the mall, out to eat a sit-down meal, or movies. Students are unable to go to school; online learning should have started this week for most secondary schools. Colleges and universities have already begun. People are being laid off from their jobs. The stock market has crashed several times. And even though there was just a $2 trillion stimulus package passed for the United States, not every American will benefit from it. This is a LOT to take in.
Anxiety, depression, and secondary trauma can sneak in. If you’re not careful, your emotions can overtake you causing you to become a shell of who you used to be. I am still going to work every day along with other essential workers. This creates a whole other level of concern because being out increases one’s risk of contracting the virus. So this is also a risk for our families. What can you do to stop this from happening? Great question! 😊
According to the DSM 5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), anxiety has the following symptoms:
Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than
not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
- The individual finds it difficult to control the worry.
- The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months)
Note: Only one item is required in children.
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.
- Being easily fatigued.
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
- Muscle tension.
- Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying
The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment
in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
According to the DSM 5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), depression has the following symptoms:
Five or more of the following symptoms must be present for the same two-week period with either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure:
- Depressed mood most days
- Decreased interest or pleasure in activities that were once interesting or pleasurable
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Sleeping more or sleeping less
- Poor energy
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
- Thoughts of death or wanting to die
- Feelings of going really fast or really slow
Symptoms cause impairment in daily social, occupational, and other areas of life
You can go back and read my blog on secondary trauma (https://sinceremediapro.com/secondary-trauma-and-self-care-by-dr-eea-jones-august-1-2017-advocacynowmagazine-com-by-smp/) at your leisure. Some tips to help you cope with being at home are:
- Stay active – get out and walk, run, or use exercise equipment or videos at home
- Family time – use board games, card games, movie nights, cook together, and just be creative. BTW, I’m loving the dance videos of families on social media! They look really fun.
- Sleep – catch up on it
- Clean and organize – doesn’t sound fun but we usually say we’d do it if we had more time. Well, now there’s time
- Read a book
- Catch up on recorded shows
- If you’ve always thought about starting a business or you have an invention idea, start putting together a business plan or prototype for it
- Research how you can create another stream of income
- Pray or meditate
- Talk to family, friends, or a licensed mental health professional
There are so many things you can do to help break up the monotony of being in the home every day. You can also look to family and friends for ideas if you run out of them. New ideas are always going around so it’s not hard to find something to capture your attention. Of course, you can reach out to family, friends, or a licensed mental health professional if you need to talk. Most licensed mental health professionals have gone to telehealth services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. And most, not all, insurances have followed suit to cover telehealth services for behavioral health even if the person’s insurance plan did not originally cover it. It will only be for a certain amount of time; right now, it is until further notice.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, D. C: American Psychiatric Association
Jones, E. (2017). Retrieved March 29, 2020 from https://sinceremediapro.com/secondary-trauma-and-self-care-by-dr-eea-jones-august-1-2017-advocacynowmagazine-com-by-smp/