We are, according to the World Health Organization, in a pandemic. What does this mean to you and how could this impact your psychological health?
We don’t know the full impact of the Coronavirus and this can lead to a sometimes debilitating sense of uncertainty. How long will it last? Will it impact me financially? Do I have friends or family at risk, or am I at risk? What do I do? Is the news accurate or is it misleading? How alarmed is alarmed enough? The questions can go on and on.
First, the anxiety and stress about this issue is real because we don’t have the answers to all of the questions being raised and sources giving us information can vary. So what do we do? Where do we start to create a balance between being alert to risks and at the same time, maintaining some sense of peace within ourselves.
Let’s consider social isolation–recommended or required in certain locations. If you or someone you know is required or is voluntarily quarantined, this, according to a King’s College London study can have psychological effects, including but not limited to PTSD, confusion, and anger (https://neurosciencenews.com/quarantine-psychology-ptsd-15840/). However, social distancing remains the safest option to prevent disease spread.
If you know someone who is quarantined or if you are quarantined, it’s important to reach out to those family and friends remotely (Skype, Facebook messenger, email, text, calls). This keeps communication lines open so no one feels isolated or alone. At the nCenter, we offer tele-health (online) counseling sessions so that those quarantined can process the emotions that may come up while being isolated. So why the social isolation? Is it necessary?
It is generally recognized that those 80 or older have a high risk of severe symptoms and those 60 or older have a moderate risk. Those who have a compromised immune system are also at risk, particularly if they are older. Social distance is one way to protect that population.
The Red Cross offers some other safety and readiness tips to minimize transmission https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2020/coronavirus-safety-and-readiness-tips-for-you.html, giving you opportunity to protect yourself and those at risk.
While four out of five of us who get the Coronavirus will only experience another seasonal cold, minimizing our transmission is critical for the sake of those who are at risk. So we suggest that you do your best to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds using soap and water
- Stock up on supplies and food
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away
- Stay home if you are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
- Avoid crowds or closed quarters
One concern is that we not overload our health care system with greater and greater numbers of illnesses that need hospitalization. We can help protect those around us, even if we are not at risk, by following the directions of the CDC. This way everyone who needs care can get it because everyone doesn’t need care at the same time.
Beyond this, make sure you manage your stress and stay connected, even if it’s remotely, with those you love. And if you are feeling particularly stressed, our counselors are set up and ready to do tele-health (online counseling) with you or to see you face-to-face. Don’t let the stress of this situation negatively impact your sleep and sense of peace since these in turn can negatively impact your physical well-being. Call the nCenter, 406-599-2492, or your counselor for support if you are overly stressed.
Jan Matney, LCPC