Here are some thoughts on Personal/Family Stress in the face of the Corona Virus:
The feelings of stress, concern, worry & fear are natural and appropriate as we face the Corona Virus epidemic. The sense of stress is both useful (it arouses our attention & can lead to beneficial action) and, like the virus itself, can be debilitating if left to spiral out of control. So, in addition to practicing good hygiene to avoid/minimize the spread of the virus, how can we deal with stress in a way that minimizes it as an additional problem in a difficult time?
1) This morning a friend emailed to say his wife, who today begins chemo for a malignancy, tuned in to Rachel Maddow last night. “Never watch Rachel when you are already nervous” the friend advised, saying they felt much worse after the broadcast. (The same could be said for any of the partisan talk shows.) This highlights the need to limit the information we expose ourselves & our families to during this crisis- access & follow the guidelines from the CDC & local Public Health authorities. Minimize social media use unless it is to maintain contact with trusted family & friends. Step away from social media if/when you feel more worried or fearful. Temper the impulse to watch more TV news.
2) Have a plan for yourself & family regarding activities of daily living during the crisis. Develop the plan together & adapt the plan to changes in advisories as needed, but otherwise stick to your plan. Maintain your usual household routine as much as possible.
3) If confined to your home more than usual, find activities that do not involve increased social media use. Read, meditate, play games, work on projects together. Get outside for regular walks & bike rides. Physical activity helps to relieve stress & focus energy in productive ways.
4) For parents of young children who naturally are quite concerned about their health in times of flu or other epidemics: apparently children have a much lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than older people. Parents should help children practice recommended hygiene to avoid contracting or passing along the virus, but remember that their risk is much lower than for elders.