There’s no denying the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on people’s lives. And it’s not just fears about our physical health and safety that makes the days so difficult. The emotional rollercoaster we’ve all lived through as the coronavirus surges and recedes has been significant.
As we wait for vaccination rates to rise across the country and the virus to finally be mitigated, it’s important to practice healthy self-care. You can do this by being kind to yourself and finding ways to stay connected and engaged with the world around you, even if from a distance. It’s also a good idea to learn more about the warning signs that indicate you are suffering from more stress than you realize.
Signs of COVID-19 Pandemic Stress
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report an increase in the following stress-related symptoms as the coronavirus continues to impact our lives:
- Sleep disturbances or nightmares
- Anxiety and tearfulness
- Change in appetite or energy
- Excessive worrying
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Overconsumption of unhealthy comfort foods
- Increase in negative behaviors, like smoking and alcohol consumption
Here are a few ideas to help you overcome the emotional challenges caused by COVID-19.
Practicing Healthy Self-Care during COVID-19
- Keep a journal: If you’ve never tried it before, journaling is a great way to relieve anxiety. Taking a few minutes a day to get your thoughts and fears down on paper can be helpful in pinpointing the sources of your stress in greater detail. It might also help to document lifestyle factors, such as what you ate, how much you slept, and if you consumed alcohol. These can all play a role in how you feel physically and emotionally. For example, is the isolation and loneliness caused by social distancing getting to you? Or maybe it’s too much sleep and too little exercise that makes you feel sluggish and depressed? It’s easier to spot patterns when you can see them on paper.
- Limit news consumption: While it’s important to stay abreast of current events and the latest updates on the coronavirus, too much of it can leave you feeling hopeless and anxious. Try to set a reasonable limit on how much news you consume every day. That includes reading news-related posts on social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook. Opt for watching a comedy or reading a book instead.
- Enjoy virtual travel: During the early days of the pandemic, many of the world’s favorite destinations came up with creative ways to nurture people’s spirits. Most are shared free of cost. Seniors and their families can follow a ranger through the National Park System virtually or watch live-action cams of animals at the San Diego Zoo. Art lovers might enjoy launching one of the many online museum tours offered by the Louvre in Paris.
- Get moving: Humans are social creatures. When we are isolated and deprived of the company of others, it’s easy to fall in to bad habits. Sitting too much and exercising too little are a bad combination. On its own, isolation is linked to a variety of health conditions among seniors ranging from depression to high blood pressure. Try to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Get up and stretch your legs or march in place. Find indoor exercises you enjoy that can be performed at home or locate places you can safely walk indoors with a mask, like a big box store or local mall.
- Stay connected: Don’t let yourself go more than a day or so without checking in by phone or video chat with a friend or family member. While text messaging, email, and social media can all be beneficial for keeping people connected, nothing beats personal contact. If you aren’t familiar with them, video chat services like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime all have free options and are easy to use. They are almost like having a face-to-face conversation.
How Sunrise Is Responding to COVID-19
We know it’s important for residents, potential residents, and families to know how Sunrise Senior Living communities are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. For information, please visit our We Are Prepared page. You are also welcome to call us directly at 888-434-4648 with any questions!