The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) may significantly affect everyone’s mental health, but people previously diagnosed with a mental illness are at a far greater risk. Fear and anxiety about this disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, your loved ones, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How someone responds often depends on their background, community, and general personality traits. Symptoms of stress typically include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community and relationships stronger. While most of you are either social distancing or in a lockdown situation, there are still ways you can stay in contact with those most important to you. Calling or video calling, texting, and emailing are a few ways you can use the amazing technology you have at your disposal to check up on and stay in contact with the people in your life.
Ways to Support Yourself
While at times you may feel there is nothing you can do to get through these troubling times, here are a few things you can do to better support yourself:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories including social media. Continuously hearing about this pandemic can be extremely unsettling.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, and meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and do other activities you enjoy. Painting, baking, puzzles, sewing, and playing games are examples of great activities to help relax and ease stress.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and feelings.
Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding what the actual risks are to both yourself and those you care about can make this outbreak less stressful. Also, when you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help make people feel less stressed, allowing for you to better connect with them. Even though people are doing their best to distance themselves from others, it is very important for people to stay connected.
For Parents and Caregivers
If you are a parent or caregiver, it is important to remember that children and teens react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the coronavirus calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. If you think your child is having difficulty handling the situation, here are some of the signs to look out for:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (bedwetting, playing with baby toys, etc.)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Avoidance of activities they used to enjoy
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of tobacco or other drugs
Parents need to make sure they take time to talk to their children and help them understand what is happening. Sharing the facts in a calm manner is one of the most effective ways to relieve some of their stress. Limiting their exposure to news coverage is also extremely helpful. Many news sources tend to report in such a way to draw in attention. While they may be successful in this, they in turn resort to exaggerating, or even reporting facts that are partially or completely untrue. If you want accurate, factual information on COVID-19, listen to the CDC (Centers for Disease and Prevention), WHO (World Health Organization), and medical professionals.
Importance of Early Intervention and Treatment
While it may feel like the world and life as we know it is ending, we have to remember that although this situation will take some time and a global effort to resolve, it will eventually pass. Furthermore, while you may feel alone during these troubling times, it is important to understand that the entire world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. You are not alone; everyone is experiencing the same situation. There are also amazing resources available via telehealth, such as Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART), to help you manage your stress and general mental health. Accelerated Resolution Therapy has been successful in helping people suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health diagnoses.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and similar mental health issues. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Normally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on bullying victims, combat vets, and others.
It may feel like the stress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is too much to bear, but we have to remember that there is always hope, even when you feel there is none. If you feel you cannot get through this on your own, contact ART International to learn more about the therapy or find a therapist near you.
ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to Accelerated Resolution Therapy® for individuals suffering from trauma and other mental health diagnoses through innovative research and clinician training and education.