We as a society are experiencing an unprecedented situation as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changes our lives. COVID-19 is affecting each and every one of us in one way or another. You might be feeling stress, anxiety, grief, and worry, and that’s very natural.
While we are following Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, we should also take time out to focus on our own health: mental, emotional and physical. Here are some tips and resources to care of yourself during these stressful times:
Mental and Emotional Health:
Name it and claim it. We are in a period of collective grief right now and experiencing a wide variety of losses. Recognize that this is an incredibly challenging time, and allow yourself to feel that. Then, identify ways you can move forward.
If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, contact one of the following organizations:
Crisis Line 1-800-584-3578
Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8225
Mental Health Treatment Access Line 1-888-693-7200
Maintain a routine. If you are staying home, create a new routine to help you get into the right mindset and feel more productive.
Develop a self-care tool kit that works for you. Draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities. Use those skills to help you manage your emotions during this challenging time.
Go outside at least once a day. Even 20 minutes a day spent outside can help lower stress. Go for a walk, work in your yard, or sit on your porch.
Limit your news consumption, and make sure you are using trusted sources. Check for news updates one or two times a day. Consume only what you need to know, what’s most relevant to you, and what is happening or anticipated in your own community. Pick a news source that allows you to avoid potentially triggering content. Two good sources for local information are https://whatcomcovid.com and https://coronavirus.wa.gov/.
Stay connected with friends and family by video chat, email, messenger and text. Think especially about connecting with people who may be isolated or loved ones you know could be stressed or experiencing anxiety or depression. Be ready to listen to their concerns and share yours. Social isolation can have numerous negative health effects, so maintaining relationships is very important. Free apps like Marco Polo, Zoom, and Skype are ways to stay connected through video and voice.
Be patient with yourself if you are a parent. Expect that children may act out in all kinds of ways. Respond gently, because this might be a sign that your child is afraid. The Parenting Academy from Brigid Collins Family Support Center is offering free online seminars as well as one-on-one coaching sessions via video chat.
Eating well, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the effects of emotions like anxiety or depression.
Eat well. Maintaining a healthy diet is recommended at all times, and it’s important to keep it up now.
Sleep well. Following a healthy sleep schedule helps keep your energy level up and helps maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise. Any form of exercise can reduce stress. Take a walk or a bike ride, or try a free at-home workout for any level from Bellingham-based Fitness Blender, or search YouTube for free exercises to do at home.