My friend’s 93- year-old grandmother was diagnosed with COVID; my 50- something-year-old co-worker contracted COVID; and my 25-year-old cousin had COVID.
Coming up on the year anniversary of the stay-at-home orders, by now, we all probably know someone who has been diagnosed with COVID. Perhaps some of us know someone who has passed away due to COVID. Some readers of this may have even experienced COVID-19 themselves.
Despite these truths and our varied proximities to the coronavirus, it is still a surreal situation. Who would have ever thought that we would live through a pandemic? My friend’s father contracted polio in the early 1950s, and I certainly thought we would never see anything like that ever again. Boy, was I wrong! COVID is real. COVID knows no stranger and does not care who it debilitates in its path.
For many of us, the thought of waking up each morning and saying, “Will today be the day I get COVID?” is a constant means of stress. Long before the emergence of COVID, mental health professionals had determined that social isolation is dangerous to people’s mental health, but here we are, with CDC-recommended social isolation practices in place for nearly a year to stem the spread of COVID, along with wearing your mask!
COVID and stress are both very real. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates “be kind to your mind.” Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It’s good to be informed but constantly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.
Some suggested self-care practices include:
- Take deep breaths
- Take breaks
- Take care of your body
- Reach out and stay connected safely
- Listen to music
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other substances
- Seek help if you feel overwhelmed or unsafe
For more stress-related information, I would direct you to Tips for Survivors of a Pandemic: Managing Stress.
Programming for families, individuals, community settings, workplace settings, and health care professionals has become a means of hope for many folks throughout the duration of the pandemic.
Zoom support groups, teacher support groups, counseling, coping with stress programs, self-care resources, and distress hotlines are just some of the many programming ideas that have been funded through Show Me Hope Missouri, a crisis counseling program funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Response 4490 in partnership with the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) has put out a good publication to help caregivers, parents, and teachers talk to children about infectious disease outbreaks and can be found here at Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks.
We also welcome your confidential calls to 816-404-6222 to learn more about COVID counseling services and resources. A Missouri Disaster Distress Helpline (call or text) is also available 24/7 at 800-985-5990. Missouri has a website https://www.moshowmehope.org with lots of good information and Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health has a Facebook presence at facebook.com/trumedBH that will keep you updated on all of the local information and programs.
Don’t suffer — pick up the phone, and ask for help. “Be Kind to your Mind.”