We all have a need to experience a sense of community and belonging. This is fundamental to maintaining our mental and emotional health. At this time, it is important to recognize the negative psychological impact of a widespread quarantine, and find ways to reduce its impact.
Social isolation can be quite devastating to an individual. Traumatic stress symptoms, boredom, confusion, fear, anxiety, and anger can develop.
We must all exercise patience and endurance, as this crisis may last longer than we think. As the quarantine drags out, frustration and financial loss will deepen. Ultimately we will see long-lasting effects in society. Hence, we need to increase our resilience in this crisis so that we can get through this emotionally and financially difficult time. While there are many things that we cannot control during these challenging COVID-19 times, there are some important actions we can take to help ourselves and support others.
- Put limits on the amount of time spent watching the media. Stay informed, but be intentional in choosing reliable sources of information and limit your overall exposure to the deluge of information about the coronavirus.
- Take care of your physical health and keep your immune system functioning optimally:
Get adequate sleep. Enjoy 7–8 hours of sleep per night. It’s vitally important for all age groupsRemain hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar-sweetened sodasEat healthfully and at regular times. Fruits and vegetables are rich in health-promoting anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds vital in the fight against coronavirus.Avoid junk foods
Engage in daily exercise, preferably outdoors. Time spent in nature every day helps to diminish stress. Exercise helps one maintain a positive attitude
Set aside 15 minutes each day for a moment of relaxation, a time to reflect upon positive and happy events.
- Connect with family and friends by various internet formats, such as Facebook, FaceTime, Instagram, etc., or connect with them by phone. Enjoy pleasant conversation unrelated to COVID-19. Limit your conversations about the pandemic and its effects. If you focus too much on distressing news, your stress will increase.
- Develop meaningful community connections. At this time, opportunities to volunteer can be beneficial as we can find new ways to help the poor, homeless, those feeling alone, and those needing food and medications delivered to them due to being self-quarantined. This helps mitigate the feelings of desperation and isolation in our community. Having a sense of belonging to a nurturing community promotes healing for us.
- Plan a summer vacation to your favorite holiday location. Reflect on past vacations where you have enjoyed a lot of fun. These memories give comfort and composure to your life.
- Adopt a positive attitude. It can lift the gloomy clouds. Look beyond the stressful moment. Manage your thought patterns as they have a strong influence upon your emotions. Negative thoughts yield negative emotions, while optimistic thoughts produce positive emotions. Reach out to others you trust to talk about your fears, worries, frustrations, sadness and anger. Keeping everything inside only intensifies the pain, and exacerbates feelings of fear and anxiety.
- Meditation or prayer provides us with an oasis of calm in these times of uncertainty and fear. While others worry and despair in the storm, we can experience peace. Remember God is in control. He takes care of all our safety needs and provisions. Select a favorite poem or passage of hope and place that message in a strategic location where you can easily refer to it anytime.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many who are in isolation or quarantine may experience trauma and despair. It is important to reach out for professional help as this time. You can access the help of a psychologist, professional counselor, or any other mental health professional, during this crisis.
Dr. Winston Craig