Facing the Covid-19 pandemic can bring an enormous amount of stress and confusion to people’s lives. To that end, Alberta Health Services has compiled a number of tips and strategies to combat anxiety and fear and help people maintain something of a sense of stability in very uncertain times.
“For individuals and communities who have to self-isolate, are choosing to socially distance themselves, or who have otherwise directly been impacted by Covid-19, there may be heightened awareness, concern, anxiety and fear,” notes a release from AHS. “For many, a sense of loss or feeling like you don’t have control may be common. Try to be patient with yourself and others, because people may not cope like they usually do.
Officials say that when you have no control over a stressful situation or emergency, having a plan and being emotionally prepared can help you stay calm, feel more in control and reduce stress.
“In addition, using healthy coping skills to overcome daily challenges in your life is important to help you cope with your present situation and maintain good mental health.”
-Limit the amount of time you spend watching, reading or listening to news about Covid-19. Seek information at specific times once or twice a day, for example once in the morning and once in the evening.
-Get the facts about Covid-19 from reliable sources such as www.alberta.ca or www.canada.ca/publichealth and follow the links. These sources of information will help you be able to tell facts apart from the rumours.
-Focus on getting information that will help you take practical steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Taking in too much or constant information about Covid-19 can cause you or those around you to feel worried or anxious.
-Be mindful, gently paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and body sensations. This can help you understand why you are feeling anxious or stressed. And it may help you identify actions you can take to feel more in control. If you notice that you are reacting in ways that feel difficult to calm on your own, seek support from someone you trust and/or your healthcare practitioner.
– Keep up healthy behaviors that have helped you in the past. Exercise, eating healthy, getting enough rest or sleep are all examples of healthy coping behaviours.
– Keep in mind that this situation is temporary, and eventually things will return to normal.
– Try to focus on the positive. There is effective care for Covid-19; people with Covid-19 are recovering and after recovering from Covid-19, will go on with their lives including jobs, families and loved ones.
-Maintain your regular routines as much as possible. Focus on what needs to happen today, and make a list of what you need to do in the next day or week to keep yourself safe and comfortable. Keeping your regular household routine is important if children are confined at home. Encourage children to play and socialize with others, even if it is only within the family when advised to restrict social activities.
– During stressful times, it can be common for children to seek more attachment or be more demanding of parents. Discuss Covid-19 with children honestly using age-appropriate information. If children have concerns, addressing these concerns together may ease their anxiety. Holding and comforting your child helps them feel safe and secure as well. Reassure children especially at bedtime. Children will watch adult behaviors and emotions for examples on how to manage their own emotions during difficult times.
– Avoid or limit drinks with alcohol. Using alcohol to cope with feelings of stress or anxiety is not advised as alcohol disrupts normal sleep patterns, can cause mood fluctuations and can make underlying feelings of stress and trauma worse.
-Breathing techniques can be an effective tool to manage stress and anxiety. Take a slow, deep breath in as you count to five and then exhale also counting to five (repeat 10 times). This can help calm your nervous system and help you think more clearly.
-Find comfort in your personal/spiritual beliefs and practices.
-If you are in self-isolation, look for ways to stay in contact with family and friends.
For further help, call Health Link at 811 or the Mental Help Hotline at 1-877-303-2642. If you call the Province at 211, you can find referrals for community, government and social services. Kids and teens can also call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.