Uncertainty at the beginning of an infectious disease outbreak often leads to psychological reactions including stress, insomnia, anger and fear.
It’s also important that we take care of ourselves.
Here are some ways from Kathryn Zioto, MD, MPH, psychiatrist and medical director of Community Counseling, to help maintain our mental health during this difficult time.
- Stay informed using one or two credible information sources.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health updates information on COVID-19 daily at 4 p.m.
- Limit media exposure.
Staying informed is essential. However, excessive media exposure after learning the daily facts can actually increase distress. Check your reliable sources and then turn it off!
- Acknowledge that stress reactions are normal in distressing circumstances.
Common reactions include feeling physically and mentally exhausted, experiencing changes in sleep and appetite, feeling easily frustrated, and feeling sad and worried.
- Use what worked in the past.
Recall the coping skills you used to get through other tough situations in life. Was it talking to a friend or co-worker, listening to music, taking walks, or time with a pet that made you feel better? Try to integrate these strategies into your current routine if possible.
- Maintain social connections.
Get creative during a time of social distancing in order to continue to connect with the people in life that matter to you. Use FaceTime or other videotelephony apps to stay in touch with your biggest supports. Reach out by phone to those that are elderly and may be isolated to say hello. These connections will help life feel more normal.
Adapted from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress and the American Red Cross