For any individual coping with a national health crisis, it is inevitable that stress and anxiety will occur. For individuals with mental illness, the increased anxiety can cause them to struggle to maintain their daily lives.
As our communities deal with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic and its huge impact in southwest Georgia, Perry Wellness Center would like to share some tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on identifying and coping with disaster-related stress. (Many of these tips are taken directly from the CDC website.)
It is important to first identify if you or a family member are experiencing emotional distress from current circumstances. The CDC recommends that we look for any of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety of fear.
- Changes in appetite, energy, or activity levels.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Physical reactions such as headaches, stomach aches, skin rashes, etc.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Anger or short temper.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
If you are experiencing distress, consider these recommendations to reduce stress and improve coping:
- Take care of your health – eat nutritious meals, get plenty of exercise and sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
- Stay connected with others – Share your concerns and talk with friends and family members.
- Take breaks – Schedule time to unwind, try deep breathing, and find activities to do that your normally enjoy.
- Stay informed – Keep up to date on what is happening, so that you won’t become anxious that you aren’t informed. Watch out for rumors and check sources to make sure the information you receive is reliable.
- Avoid TOO much exposure to news. Staying informed is one thing, but listening to information about the crisis constantly can only increase stress. Keep as normal a routine as possible and check for news updates only periodically.
- Seek help if needed. If your ability to cope is significantly impacted, consider talking to a minister, doctor, or counselor. You can also call a national hotline at 1-800-985-5990.
And don’t forget: we’re all in this together!