Before the Coronavirus pandemic the term "social distancing" probably had never crossed our mind or graced any of our conversations.
March 24, 2020
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the stress of coping with a global pandemic combined with isolation and the daily disruption caused by the virus can cause a toxic environment for those already dealing with mental health issues. Those most at risk are older people, immunocompromised individuals, those with underlying heart or lung disease and diabetes, children, teens and health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic.
"Being social is what most of us do. We thrive on social contact and it is a very fundamental need on multiple levels. It's when we don't have that our mental and physical health suffers."
Even if you do not have pre-existing mental health issues, these times of profound worry, lack of social interaction, job insecurity and the threat of illness can be difficult on everyone. A PBS Newshour, NPR and Marist poll recently found that 1/5 of Americans have lost their job or had work hours cut due to a novel Coronavirus and 48% said they, or someone in their household, canceled plans to avoid crowds.
So how does stress manifest in adults and children?
Feeling anxious about their health and that of a loved ones
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Disruptions in eating
Flaring of pre-existing conditions
Using substances (tobacco, alcohol or drugs) more than under regular circumstances
Crying a lot or being cranky
Regressing in behaviors, for example, bedwetting
Being very sad or worried
Acting out (particularly with teenagers)
Not performing well with schoolwork or avoiding school demands altogether
Losing interest in once enjoyed activities
Headaches or body aches
Loss of focus
Using substances or drugs
Here are some tips to help you maintain your social networks and stay connected:
Get up, take a shower, get dressed and stick to a schedule.
Exercise, particularly outdoors. Eat healthy food and get adequate sleep.
Set times to check in with trusted sources on developments about COVID-19 to avoid ramping your anxiety.
Use technology to keep up with friends and family. You can try to commit to calling 4 people each day, virtually watch a favorite TV show with friends or take a free virtual tour of a museum.
Use this time to engage in meaningful task such as housework, reading or starting a project that you've been unable to begin.
Hang out with your pets. Play fetch, go on a long walk, give them a little more TLC. It will help your mood.
Don't forget to laugh. It's easy to get caught up being so serious with all the news and continuous barrage of information.
Check on someone who may be worse off. Especially if they are elderly, have depression, anxiety or another diagnosed condition.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression or just need someone to talk to, myURGENCYMD has Master Level Therapist who can help you through these trying times. You are guaranteed 100% follow-up with the same Therapist each time you call, and you pay no per-call fee like other companies.
Dorsha James, MD, is a 15-year veteran emergency medicine physician in the Nashville, TN area. She now serves as the CEO and chief medical officer for her company myURGENCYMD. myURGENCYMD is a national telemedicine company that provides members with access to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week virtual consultations with a board-certified physician to discuss non-emergency conditions. She enjoys empowering patients by helping them understand how to properly utilize the many avenues for the treatment of medical conditions to obtain optimal health. To learn more about the company, visit www.myurgencymd.com