Dr. Yoon-Hudman is the Healthfirst Behavioral Health Medical Director. Below, she shares the best practices for supporting yourself and those you love in the midst of this unusual, unprecedented time of the viral pandemic.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, we find ourselves needing to constantly adjust and change the way we go about our daily lives. It is more important now than ever to be mindful about taking care of our mental and emotional well-being. While we all work daily to support our members, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family is equally important and can help you cope with stress.
How to support yourself
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.
- Monitor your anxiety levels. If you experience signiﬁcant changes in your energy level, eating patterns, or sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating on normal tasks, prolonged and overwhelming worry and hopelessness, or thoughts of self-injury or suicide, seek out immediate help at:
How to support the children in your life
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is OK to feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Keep as many routines intact as possible. For kids who may be out of school and/or have had extracurricular activities cancelled, it is helpful to keep other routines, like mealtimes and bedtimes.
- Encourage physical activity and time outside where possible. Both staying active and having opportunities to be in nature are helpful with mitigating anxiety and building resilience.
- Not all children and teens respond to stress similarly. Some common changes to watch for include:
If these changes are persistent or severe, please seek professional help.
- Irritability or “acting out”
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Excessive worry or sadness
How to support the older adults in your life
- Encourage them to stay as active as possible, for both physical and psychological well-being.
- Help older adults ﬁnd ways to help others, such as calling others to check in on them or entertaining grandchildren on FaceTime. Having a purpose and role can reduce anxiety.
- Consider practical ways you can relieve an older person’s anxiety, such as volunteering to order their groceries online or offering to walk the individual’s dog(s).
- In a time of high anxiety, it may be hard for older people to select reliable sources of information and updates on COVID-19. Write down and curate a list of reputable media.
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This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.