The global pandemic that spurred social distancing guidelines are unprecedented in recent history. The required 6-foot distance between you and everyone else but your household members can be stressful. It’s touching virtually every American’s life and people are reacting in different ways.
You may be feeling:
- Various levels of fear and anxiety over your own health.
- Nervous about how you are going to manage your bills and other life obligations as you stay home for your safety and others’ safety.
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), lonely and cut off from friends and family, along with the rest of the world.
- Trapped in one place.
- Boredom and frustration as your options for work or regular activities are limited.
- Uncertain about your next step, or what’s going to happen next.
- An impulse to use food or other substances to soothe the other feelings that confinement has stirred.
- Despair and depression which may change your appetite and ability to fall asleep, or it may have you sleeping too much.
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which arouse distressing memories, flashbacks (reliving an event) and nightmares.
Take steps to support yourself. You can:
- Connect with others. Whether it’s through the phone, email, text message and social media, reaching out to those you trust reduces anxiety, depression and loneliness during this isolation.
- Use applications like Skype or FaceTime for “face-to-face” interactions with friends and loved ones.
- Limit your consumption of news about coronavirus.
- Have a routine that prioritizes your health with a reasonable sleep schedule and healthy eating.
- Avoid excessive caffeine, junk food, alcohol and other substances.
- Add some activities you might not have found the time to do before this, such as reading, watching TV, and keeping a journal about your experience during this unique time in history.
- Try something new to challenge yourself. Have you ever wanted to knit, learn a new language, or try a type of exercise?
- Make a list of things that make you feel hopeful or grateful.
- Mark off days on a calendar to show yourself that time does pass.
- Limit social media use if you are feeling FOMO. Turn your attention to what you enjoy.
To be supportive to another in self-isolation, you can:
- Interact with them every day, be it through calling or messaging.
- Ask how someone is doing. Assure them that frustration, stress and anger are normal reactions to these unprecedented times.
- Encourage routines that involve regular sleeping patterns, eating healthy and adding variety to their daily activities.
- Stay positive.
After you come out of isolation, you may:
- Have feelings like you don’t fit in — as if you have been singled out and others may be judging you.
- Want to talk to others about your experience and how you are feeling.
- Need to seek help if you continue to feel distressed, anxious, depressed, and are having difficulty sleeping.
- The American Psychological Association has put together a page with links to general resources for pandemics.
- The American Psychological Association has a website about building resilience.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has disaster resources available around the clock at 800-846-8517 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- The Centers for Disease Control has guidance on Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19.
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Chaz Stevens is an entrepreneur, former journalist, and well-known activist who has appeared on the front pages of Time, Miami Herald, Guardian, Slate, and the Huffington Post. He’s also appeared on The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and Fox News.
Chaz lives in South Florida with his two rescue dogs. Before launching ESAD International, he could be found working on IT for IBM, Microsoft, and The Walt Disney World Company. But his favorite job is the one he’s now doing full time — helping people get to a better place.