Maintaining Wellness During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Let's be real. These have been stressful and scary times for all of us. School has been canceled, some people have lost their jobs, we can't hang out with our friends, major events like prom, graduation, and birthday celebrations have been all been canceled too. There is lots of uncertainty, mixed messages from the media and family and friends and even worse people getting sick and dying. And it can feel impossible to try and find a way to be normal during all of this. And that is OK. These are some of the things that have helped me to find some balance in all of this craziness.

Let's Start With the Basics

First of all, what is wellness?

Everyone throws around the W word, but what does that really mean?

Oxford defines Wellness as:

the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Wellness is different for everyone. The things that make you happy and your own personal goals may be very different than other people. Wellness takes practice and time to figure out what ways work best. You are the expert ! If you feel off balance, the wellness wheel can be helpful to see what areas of wellness you can improve on or what parts are missing.

Knowledge is power!

Knowing more about COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself is the first step to finding balance. The CDC is a great place for accurate and timely information!

Recognizing Stress

Stress during this time can involve fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones. Everyone doesn't respond to stress in the same way. Some people have:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Worsening of chronic health problems

  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children

  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown

  • Excessive worry or sadness

  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens

  • Poor school performance or avoiding school

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain

Wellness Tips

Recognize that your anxiety and emotions are completely normal

  • Missing out on events with friends, hobbies, or sports matches is incredibly disappointing

  • Feel your feelings

  • Validate the fears

  • Remember that everyone reacts differently

Focus on the facts

  • There is a lot of misinformation out there, and that breeds a lot of fear

  • Focus close to home and in your immediate area, don't overwhelm yourself keeping track of what is happening all over the world

Find control

  • COVID-19 is very out of our control and we feel more anxious when we aren’t in control.

  • Focus on ways (no matter how small) you can take control back

  • Practice good hygiene and practice self care

  • Structure your day

  • Focus on people, things or thoughts that bring happiness

  • Be supportive to others

Do what you need to do to feel safe

  • Physical Distancing- stay connected with family and friends from a distance at least 6 ft

  • Wear a mask and/or gloves

  • Wash your hands often

  • Cover your mouth when you cough.

  • Stay home

Get your emotional support system in place

  • Take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies: rest during work or between shifts, eat healthy food and engage in physical activity

  • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks

  • Have the emails and phone numbers of close friends and family

  • Stay connected via email, social media, video conference and telephone

  • Find new ways to connect with your friends

  • Find free online resources

Don’t feel the pressure to be productive

  • Everyone is talking about the weight they are losing, the business they are starting, the books the are reading - don't worry about everyone else

  • Focus on yourself and personal growth

  • Take this time to breath, to slow down, to reset

  • Try to learn how to do something new: start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument

Minimize media time

  • Phones are great to keep us connected, but they also can drag us down, esp when we keep seeing repetitive information.

  • One or two news checks a day is all we need

  • Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19..

  • Avoid watching, reading or listening to news reports that cause you to feel anxious or distressed

  • Instead, seek CDC updates and practical guidelines at specific times during the day

Make a plan for when you are overwhelmed or distressed.

  • What are two or three tools in your toolbox for when your stress is too elevated?

  • For some it may be a solo walk around the block, some cycles of deep breathing, a hot shower, a slow cup of tea, a call to a trusted friend

  • Now is also a good time to develop new coping skills and learning new ways to reset

Things you can do to support yourself