Coping in the COVID World
May 01, 2020
By Ted Bender, PhD, President, UnityPoint Health – UnityPlace AND Matthew McMillin, MD, FAAFP, UnityPoint Clinic MDVIP Family Medicine, UnityPoint Health – UnityPlace Board Member
Managing Stress During a Pandemic
Virtually all of us across the United States and around the world have been directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes in our daily living practices were sudden and overwhelming. We’ve lost many of the common bonds we share as a society from sporting events and concerts to social gatherings such as weddings or dinner with friends. Even tasks that were once completed effortlessly, such as a quick trip to the grocery store or getting a haircut, now require a new level of creativity and heightened planning to accomplish. Each day brings an unnerving level of sameness heightened by uncertainty. Stress is ever-present in our lives. Understanding your personal response to stress and developing the tools to manage this stress can help all of us get through this time separately together.
Each of us experience stress differently. Change, even when positive, evokes a powerful response in us – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whether you are a parent adjusting to at home e-learning, an employee transitioning to remote working, or a senior coping with the loneliness brought on by social isolation, these are unprecedented and uniquely difficult times. We are also operating on information overload. Cable television and social media feeds are filled with minute-to-minute updates reporting on the impact of the pandemic and constantly telling us what we can do to help “flatten the curve.”
To further complicate things, there is growing evidence to show that “shelter-in-place” becomes synonymous with “camping on the couch” for many individuals who have abandoned physical activity and exercise routines. Worse yet, people are increasingly scared into staying home even in the face of potentially fatal health conditions that require emergency care. Patients in need of medical attention have become afraid to go to the hospital for fear of infecting themselves or their loved ones.
There Is Hope! What You Can Do to Thrive
How do you handle stress? Do you bottle it inside? Do you vent to others? Or, do you channel it into something productive like exercise, reading, or journaling? This self-insight can be beneficial to help identify the impact of stress up front so that you can proactively manage this threat to your health and well-being.
If You Are Worried About Your Health
If You Are Down, Depressed, or Anxious
- The best defense is staying healthy – exercise regularly, eat healthy, get out and enjoy some fresh air, and get adequate sleep.
- Stay consistent in your daily, healthy routines.
- Work to control stress proactively rather than suffer reactively.
If You Are Bored
- Moderate exposure to national news, politics, and social media.
- Maintain positive social contacts – family, friends, and colleagues by utilizing phone, email, or video applications.
- Know your limits and when to seek help.
- Solve puzzles.
- Take up a hobby.
- Stay connected with loved ones.
- Take a virtual tour – museums/vacation spots.
- Look forward and plan for life after the pandemic.
Implementing these self-care practices will help all of us cope with the unique stressors of today and maintain ongoing wellness into the future.
For more information on mental wellness services contact UnityPoint Health - UnityPlace Access Center at 1-888-311-0321 or visit Unityplace.org. To learn more about UnityPoint Clinic MDVIP Family Medicine go to www.mdvip.com/MatthewMcMillinMD.
Back to Top