No matter how you have been affected by the pandemic, here are some tips to help you cope.
The world has never faced a challenge quite like the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has sickened millions of people, caused untold financial hardship and kept us separated from family and friends at a time when we need them most. It’s no surprise that issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are increasing as a result.
Although healthcare workers and first responders may be in the most traumatic situations on a regular basis, no person is immune to the trauma of these unprecedented events. This may result in short-term PTSD-like symptoms or may evolve into a more clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Here are some tips to help you cope with PTSD-like feelings, including fear, stress, anger and depression:
Reach out to others. Lack of human contact may be making you feel worse about your situation. “Normally, social contact, social support and social connections with other people often provide a buffer to some of the effects of disasters. But the fact that we’re now having to be socially isolated could strain those protective resources,” Ariane Rung, PhD, MPH, a behavioral epidemiologist at the Louisiana State University of Public Health told Nola.com. If you’re spending more time at home than usual, keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls, texts or teleconferencing. If you’re feeling blue, contact friends who can find the positive in any situation, rather than those determined to promote worst case scenarios.
Write about it. Keeping a journal may help you process your thoughts and emotions. Your journal entries can be as short or long as you like and don’t have to be shared with anyone else.
Just breathe. Your breathing tends to become shallower when you’re stressed or anxious. Practicing deep breathing a few times a day may help you reduce stress and strengthen your lungs. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth.
Sing a song. It’s nearly impossible to think about anything else when you sing. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad, depressed or angry, sing a few bars of your favorite song to block out negative thoughts and feelings.
Make yourself comfortable. Surround yourself with things and activities that enhance your comfort and make you feel happy. Watch a funny movie, read a book, put on a comfortable robe, look at old photographs or take a virtual journey around the world via Google Maps.
Seek help when needed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, can’t sleep or experience flashbacks or nightmares, share your worries with a mental health professional. Psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors offer a variety of therapies designed to ease PTSD symptoms. Due to social distancing concerns, many professionals now offer telemedicine counseling sessions.
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Date Last Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD