Including the Ultimate Well-being Checklist
It's no secret that the Novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a serious issue for the health and safety of people all over the world. But that also means we're all in this together. We're not alone, any of us. Rather than get stressed over the information all over the internet, TV news, radio, and newspapers, take time to focus on the things you can control – like your emotional well-being and the way you react to the situation.
With the changes in society – social distancing, supply shortages, businesses closed, etc – anxiety and depression are on the rise in unprecedented numbers, but they don't have to be. These are uncertain times, but they're also times where we can learn a great deal about ourselves and each other. We can see what's important, and think about what matters for our future.
People talk about “going back to normal” when the crisis has passed. Now is the time for all of us to consider how much of what we thought of as “normal” is worth going back to. According to a recent Forbes article, pandemics incite anxiety and fear. They can also lead to people feeling out of control and engaging in erratic behaviors that could put them or others at risk. Instead of expecting that to be your life for the foreseeable future, you can think about this situation a different way. To help with that, here are eight things you can do to maintain your well-being during this crisis.
1. Make Time for Self-Care – Whether you want to go for a run, soak in the bathtub, or eat ice cream (in moderation, of course), make some time for you. Self-care will look different for everyone, and that's all right. You probably know what kinds of things will help you and that are also healthy ways to cope. If you're not sure what's going to help, consider exploring some common self-care suggestions. You'll find things that resonate with you.
2. Help Other People When Possible – Consider the "helper" therapy principle, which shows that helping other people also benefits the helper. In other words, doing things for others makes them feel good, but it makes you feel good, too. Your well-being will get a boost from improving life for someone else.
3. Find Safe Ways to Interact – Among the biggest problems with a crisis like the coronavirus, says a former U.S. Surgeon General, is the social isolation and loneliness that protective measures such as social distancing can create. But you don't have to be alone, even if you can't be around people physically. Phone calls, online interactions, texting, Skype, Facetime calls, and even writing letters can be ways to stay in touch safely.
4. Don't Let Frustration Take Control – The feeling of being alone, coupled with the stress that comes from spouses, children, and others all staying home with one another, can contribute to anger, frustration, and high levels of stress. Calming techniques such as meditation, listening to music, deep breathing, reading, coloring, and yoga can all reduce these feelings and help improve your well-being.
5. Limit Your Exposure to the News – While you want to be aware of what's going on in the world and your community during a crisis, immersing yourself in it all day isn't healthy. You can protect your well-being more easily when you limit exposure to negative or frightening news and only “catch up” on the day's events for a short period of time.
6. Refocus Your Perspective – There are some scary statistics out there, but it's valuable to remember that the majority of people who become ill with COVID-19 will only have a mild illness. A lot of people won't get sick at all. In some cases, people don't have any symptoms, and work is constantly being done to help the most vulnerable among us. By having the right perspective, you can see the truth of the situation and avoid unnecessary fear.
7. Stay Engaged With Things You Find Valuable – Focus on the kinds of things that matter to you, or explore new hobbies you've been wanting to try. You can read through the books on your shelves, finish crocheting that afghan, or work on your model train layout. There's always something to do, and when you do things that matter to you or you find important or enjoyable, you can improve your well-being even in difficult times.
8. Do Healthy Things, Like Eat Right and Exercise – You don't have to become a chef or buy an expensive home gym. Just make small changes, like reducing the junk food that comes into your home and taking a walk around your neighborhood. You'll generally find that you feel better, and you'll likely want to continue to eat better and move more in the future. Mental and physical well-being are closely tied together, and both are important.
The bottom line? Your well-being matters, and during a crisis it's even more important to focus on the things that will help keep you mentally and physically healthy. We can all do our part to stay healthy and protect others, and we will all get through this together.
So, what are the main takeaways to focus on during this time? Remember:
- Follow the steps listed above to reduce stress, interact safely with others, and improve your overall well-being during the coronavirus crisis and other difficult times.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider and follow their instructions. ERs are overwhelmed. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.
- When things get back to normal, focus on overall prevention and wellness. Establish a healthy routine, and catch up on those preventive care screenings you've been putting off. If you need help sooner and it's not virus-related, consider telemedicine.
- Don't be afraid to get help for your mental and physical well-being. We need to take the stigma off of stress-related issues. Reach out if fear, anxiety, anger, or other issues are getting in the way of life. Yes, things are difficult right now, but they will improve.
- “This too, shall pass. When things are bad, remember: It won’t always be this way. Take one day at a time. When things are good, remember: It won’t always be this way. Enjoy every great moment.” – Doe Zantamata
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