As First Responders and citizens, maintaining our resilience and mental health should always be a priority in our day to day operation. During a crisis, this becomes even more paramount. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we recognize that our community is dealing with an increased level of stress and anxiety. While we may be used to other disasters in our area (e.g. floods, drought, ice emergencies etc…) that last for hours or days, this event has the potential to last longer. We wanted to provide the members of the community we serve with some simple advice and reminders on things you, and your families can do to stay resilient and healthy (both mind and body) during this stressful time.
• Limit exposure to COVID-19 information, which might mean limiting time on social media.
Much of the news we receive comes from social media. While some of that information may be helpful, it can increase anxiety and stress responses. It is natural to want to know as much as you can about COVID-19, but information overload can become counterproductive and ineffective. If you feel your anxiety increasing during this time, especially around COVID-19 information, unplug as much as you can.
• Engage in enjoyable activities.
When encountered with situations that cause increased panic and stress, we can sometimes forget about the simple activities that bring us joy and comfort. It is highly recommended to re-engage in activities that bring you joy, within reasonable and safe parameters, of course. For some, this might include cooking, yard work, organizing your home/office, taking a walk, knitting, blogging, etc.
• Practice mindfulness and present moment awareness.
It’s easy to get carried away with future planning. In fact, anxiety increases feeling the need to plan and over prepare. While this may be helpful for some, constant worries about the future can be extremely overwhelming for others. It is important to practice being in the present moment as much as possible. Mindfulness, which means doing one thing at a time with intention and present moment focus, can be practiced in a number of ways, including listening to calming/relaxing music, mindful walking, mindful eating, breathing, coloring, sewing, etc. Other forms of mindfulness, such as meditation and yoga, are helpful. Practicing mindfulness is an intentional act of bringing the mind back to the present moment, which can be so helpful during uncertain times.
• Control the controllable.
For many of us, not knowing what to expect from this situation, can make us feel out of control. Instead of focusing on the “what-ifs”, and anecdotal and hypothetical situations, turn your attention back to the things you do have control over.
Exercising and moving have been proven time and time again to be helpful in managing stress and anxiety. For people who are able to do so, a walk around the neighborhood or home workouts can prove beneficial for those struggling with anxiety and stress.
• Stick to the facts.
It’s easy to believe some of the information coming in about COVID-19, especially when there seems to be reputable sources attached to that information. It may be helpful to choose one or two reputable sources where you are getting your information. This limits conflicting reports, and helps you check the facts on the development of the virus and precaution protocols.
Information and resources for parents
Times like this are stressful enough for adults, especially those that have children. Below are some links that provide information on steps you can take to help children understand the current events:
• How to talk to your kids about the virus:
• Here’s a comic book version:
• When the news is TOO SCARY to talk to your kids:
• Talking to Teens & Tweens about Corona Virus: