Saturday, March 21st, 2020
How to stay calm during pandemic
By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - When people hear, read or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease such as COVID-19, they may feel anxious and show signs of stress.
However, local and national experts say people have several ways to calm themselves in times of crisis.
Roberta Donovan, clinical director at Foundations Behavioral Health Services, said people often experience feelings of worry or fear when confronted with situations they can't control. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, says people may experience serious distress when they hear about an infectious disease outbreak, even if they face little risk of getting sick.
Donovan said people feeling stressed or anxious can take breaks from reading or watching news about the outbreak. SAMHSA said avoiding the news to focus on parts of life that are going well and within a person's control can help keep stressors in perspective. The Ohio Department of Health has said while getting accurate information to prepare and respond is important, people shouldn't overwhelm themselves or their family with information or spend too much time on social media.
"Being plugged in can cause anxiety," Donovan said.
"Maybe now's the time to try new recipes or pick up projects that have been put off," she suggested.
Donovan said parents and kids who are working or learning from home should maintain a schedule similar to what they had before. For example, if family members normally wake up at 8 a.m. to go to work or school, they should continue to do so rather than sleeping in. This will make the transition back to work and school easier.
"We tend to do better when we have some structure in our lives," she said. "Set reasonable expectations and try to stick to the same schedule."
Eating healthy meals, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol and staying hydrated will go a long way toward feeling better, Donovan added. Eating healthy foods doesn't have to be bland - adding garlic, onion, pepper, ginger, turmeric, oregano, thyme or rosemary to dishes can add additional anti-inflammatory properties to a meal, according to the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science.
People should also take some time to move and exercise, according to SAMHSA and ODH. Donovan recommended people take a walk outside when weather permits or work out at home. Parents can get their kids involved with exercise, too, she added.
"If you're feeling stir crazy, get outside when possible," Donovan said.
As parents and kids are forced to spend more time together than usual, now is the perfect time to do things as a family, Donovan continued. ODH's website, coronavirus.ohio.gov, has a checklist of family activities to try. Families can create an obstacle course with toys and games already at home, have a family dance party or a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood to get kids active and burn off excess energy.
If people are feeling anxious or fearful, Donovan said focusing on the positive, such as thinking of a future event to anticipate or practice mindfulness. Staying connected with support systems through phone calls, texting or other means is crucial, she added. Most importantly, Donovan, SAMHSA and ODH all agree: this situation isn't permanent.
"This won't go on forever," Donovan said. "People need to focus in on that hope."
The Tri County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, Mental Services Board of Van Wert, Mercer and Paulding Counties has a mental health crisis hopeline that can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-567-4673. People can also call the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 at 800-985-5990 and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill helpline is available 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday at 800-950-6264. Reach the Ohio Crisis Text Line by texting keyword 4HOPE to 741 741. People can also find a provider at indtreatment.gov.
Additional resources on mental health and COVID-19 can be found at mha.ohio.gov/coronavirus. For additional COVID-19 information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 833-4-ASK-ODH (833-427-5634) for answers to COVID-19 questions.
NAMI Is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The error was made in information provided to the newspaper.