BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) – The anxiety of this virus is present across the globe.
Alicia Walker a Licensed Psychologist with Monroe Health Center in Union W.Va., gives the following advice to those struggling to cope:
1. While so much in our lives seem uncertain, scary, out of our control it is important to remind ourselves what we can control –
- First we can control our daily thoughts – we all need to limit the amount of time we spend thinking / worrying about COVID-19
- Second we can control our daily behaviors – we can / should limit our daily outings, staying home as much as possible protects ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. While at home be proactive engage in enjoyable activities, physical exercise, practice hobbies, get caught up on to do lists,
- Third we can control our emotions – while anxiety, sadness and fear are common reactions at this time it is important we recognize our emotions, accept the feelings as valid but find healthy ways to express them (art, music, dance, talking to supportive individuals, journaling, yoga, meditation, etc.).
2. Sleep Hygiene is very important at this time, and proper sleep goes hand and hand with a healthy immune system responses. Below are the most common behavioral recommendations to improve sleep:
- If you have difficulties falling asleep – after 20 minutes in bed get up out of bed and go do something calming relaxing only returning to bed when you feel tired
- Avoid long naps – a nap should be no longer than 30 minutes and should occur in the morning or early afternoon (otherwise your sleep cycle at night will be interrupted)
- Avoid caffeine, tobacco products, and alcohol – all three interrupt the biological sleep cycle.
- Cope with worries before crawling into bed – talk to a supportive individual, journal, engage in mindfulness relaxation activity
- Do not sit on or lay on your bed throughout the day – reading in bed, watching TV, in bed, scrolling on your phone in bed throw off your biological conditioning to initiate sleep at night.
- Avoid screens before bed – the light from phone, tablets, etc. confuse the biological mechanisms in your brain preventing the secretion of hormones that initiate and control sleep.
- Make sure your bed and room are comfortable, calming and cool places.
3. Self- Care is very important to avoid becoming overwhelmed with stress
- Physical Self-Care: exercise nutrition, sleep,
- Emotional Self-Care: stress management, time Management, kindness and compassion to self and others,
- Social Self-Care: seek out positive social interactions (via phone if necessary) and avoid overexposure to social media,
- Spiritual Self-Care: includes more than just connecting with your higher power, but also activities like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, etc.
4. Also do not forget about children whose lives are also being unsettled because of COVID-19. They are out of school, away from friends, teachers, routines and lives completely changed,; They hear about COVID19/ Corona virus and may or may not have their own fears and worries.
- Signs of anxiety in children include: being cranky, clinging to things, trouble sleeping, trouble eating (or eating too much) and being easily distracted.
- So talk to your kids, allow them to voice their worries, share what they have heard, help them understand their thoughts and feelings are real without minimizing their experiences. But also help them cope with their worries with facts from credible sources as rumors and inaccurate information only adds to problems.