Television news, talk shows, and the Internet are flooded with information about the COVID-19 outbreak. It seems there’s nowhere a person can turn without seeing, hearing or feeling the impact of this pandemic.
The fear and anxiety associated with an outbreak such as this can affect people differently. The situation can be overwhelming and can cause strong emotions.
One of the major factors affecting people is mandatory social distancing.
“As social beings, social distancing is not our normal behavior,” said Nurse Director of Behavioral Health Krystal Sagers. “It’s important for us to continue to make personable connections while staying safe. Physical distancing is not isolation or quarantine. We can still be social and provide support to one another.”
The Centers for Disease Control defines social distancing as keeping space between yourself and other people outside your home. It is reducing close contact between people to slow the spread of infections and disease. According to the CDC, staying at least six feet away from other people, and avoiding large groups and crowded places can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, social distancing is a critical tool for ending the pandemic.
While not seeing family and friends can have a negative impact on mental wellness, Sagers said there are many safe activities to do that can make the current situation a bit easier to handle.
“Taking walks, doing yard work, Spring cleaning, reading, and listening to music are just a few activities that can be comforting and time consuming,” she said. “Checking on friends and family via telephone, email or video chat can also provide enjoyment.
“We can restore a sense of calm by turning off the TV and making plans to stay connected to friends and loved ones using Internet video apps. Make funny home videos with the family or write in a journal.”
Focusing on physical health during the pandemic can ultimately benefit mental wellness, too.
“Physical activity such as stretching, exercising and practicing deep breathing techniques can also be calming during this time,” Sagers said. “Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly even if it’s just a 30-minute walk outside and get plenty of sleep.”
This “new normal” could be in effect for quite a while moving forward. Sagers said to keep in mind that everyone’s response to the crisis is different.
“Social distancing and wearing a face mask are two situations most of us are not used to,” Sagers said. “But practicing respiratory etiquette and good hand hygiene can help ease some of the tension.
“Think of the whole society, not just an individual. Think of those around you and be conscious that everyone is reacting differently to this situation.”