Jill Gehring is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working with the providers at Power County Family Clinic. She has some great tips and reminders on how we can all manage the stress of COVID-19 in our lives and helping our children to cope as well…
The emergence of COVID-19 has left many with increased levels of stress, anxiety and fears. Many experience grief as we mourn the familiarity of “normal” and adjust to changes at home, work, community, nation, and the world. As we “socially distance” from one another, there is a connectedness that we are all experiencing in this shared grief that takes place. Ongoing worry and fear about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Knowing how to cope during these times of uncertainty will help you, those you love and our community. Here are some tips and recommendations that can help:
- Knowing the facts about COVID-19 can help reduce stress. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. Taking preventative steps against the virus can provide reassurance and a sense of control that people feel empowered by when they are taking precautions against transmission.
- Limit how much time you are reading, watching or listening to news about the pandemic, including social media.
- Take care of your body and mind. Get adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Engage in meditation or mindfulness activities that promote mind-body awareness. Reflect on your faith or spirituality that may provide a source of comfort.
- Take time to unwind, engage in hobbies or activities that bring joy.
- Have compassion for yourself. Recognize that the thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing are common during this outbreak.
- Have compassion for others. Doing for others takes the focus off of our own feelings of worry and fear. Have compassion and patience for others as they adjust to this time as well. Do what you can to help: shop for the elderly or health compromised individuals.
- Continue to connect. Social distancing doesn’t mean, social disconnect. Reach out to those you trust about your concerns and talk about how you are feeling. Maintain relationships via phone calls, text messaging, or video call options.
- Take care of your mental health. Call your health care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
- People with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance abuse disorders should continue treatment during this time.
Recognize that not all kids will respond the same way to stress, some may show resilience to this adjustment period as they transition to remote learning and separation from their peers. Others may not, and it is important to be watchful of behavioral changes in children and teens.
- In younger children, increased crying, tantrums, or irritability.
- Regressive behaviors, returning to behaviors that they have since outgrown (for example, bed wetting, toileting accidents).
- In teens, irritability, increased “at-risk” behaviors, or acting out, tobacco, alcohol, or drug use.
- Excessive worry, fixation, obsessive thoughts specifically relating to outbreak.
- Difficulty with attention, focus and concentration.
- Loss of interest, or avoiding activities that they once enjoyed.
- Somatic presentation, unexplained headaches, pain, or gastrointestinal issues.
Ways to support your child:
- Talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts that are age appropriate to their level of their understanding.
- Offer reassurance and guidance. Share your own feeling and what you are doing to cope and care for yourself during this time.
If you or your loved ones are having difficulty managing these emotions on your own, there is no stigma in seeking help. Talk to your health care provider today. Power Count y Family Clinic has structured hours to safeguard both patients and staff. Telehealth related services are available during this time to ease any fears you may have regarding in-office visits. Call 226-1057 for questions or an appointment.