Amirah Ahmad Shah
Managing our Emotional and Psychological Stress of Coronavirus
With constant updates on COVID-19's situation from the media, colleagues, friends, and families, we are continually being bombarded with information on travel restrictions, quarantine, employment and safety.
It is common to feel anxious and concerned about ourselves, and our loved ones in the near future. We wonder about our family members overseas, we speculate over our financial stability, and we face consequences on our employment and education. The chaos that was once at a distance, has slowly encroached into our proximity. It is no wonder our stress levels begin to rise in times like these.
So, how do we care for ourselves and others in this global pandemic?
Firstly, it is helpful to be able to identify signs and symptoms in yourself and others.
- Feeling stressed or overwhelmed - Feeling worried or fearful caused by the flow of information - Feeling helpless - Feeling frustrated, irritable or angry - Experiencing sadness, or lack of interest in activities you would normally enjoy - Increased blood pressure - Increased heart rate - Stomach discomfort - Poor sleep quality - Poor concentration - Fear to self-isolate - Fear of going into public spaces
We are then encouraged to:
Acknowledge these signs and feelings. Determine what contribute to them.
It is a natural response when we are faced the constant uncertainty and evolution of COVID-19, and the circumstances it creates for us.
Give yourself the time for these thoughts and feelings. Give yourself the opportunity to process them too. You could write them down, talk to friends or family, meditate, do some mindful colouring, doodle, organize your closet, listen to music... Whatever it is that works best for you.
Maintain as much of your regular daily routine as possible. If going for a walk, or a run in the early morning is part of routine, and it is still possible, go for it! For some of us, our outdoor options are quite limited. Attempt to do more indoor activities like using Youtube for stretching, home workouts, yoga, pilates and so on. Spend some time in the kitchen preparing healthy food, and get enough sleep. As we know, good sleep is your immunity shield.
Keep connected. Be in touch with people, let them support you as you support them. Social connection is so much easier in this day and age despite the movement restrictions.
Get the right information. There is a lot of information out there, and not everything is accurate. Wrong information gives us unnecessary worries and fears, which we in turn pass on to others. Be mindful of your sources.
Limit the information flow. At the same time, we want to put a cap on the amount of time we spend researching, reading, and being updated on COVID-19. Although it is sensible to keep up-to-date, we want to know when to put the screen away. Otherwise, this may cause more worry, fear, frustration, and irritation.
Keep safe. Make an effort to keep yourself and others safe by following your country's health guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Be prepared. If you seriously anticipate quarantine and lockdowns, stock up!
Speak to a professional. Times like these may be difficult to cope for some, given our different situations. COVID-19 may also be triggering for some of us who have had similar experiences in the past. Connect with a mental health professional. Even a 30-minute chat can put some concerns to rest.
Road To Recovery is available for online support, including brief sessions.
All in all, self-care is key.
Wishing us all a healthier horizon.