By Brian Woods
Students, staff and faculty are all experiencing changes in their normal routines during the coronavirus pandemic — from shifting schedules and social distancing to moving to virtual instruction.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and temporary lifestyle transition is understandably stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about the disease and what the future holds can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
Remember that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How one responds to the outbreak can depend on their background, community, personal health and more. However, coping with stress in healthy ways will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger.
To address these issues, mental health experts recommend creating a daily stay-at-home routine. Build in three key elements to the routine to help maintain mental health; exercise, a mental health check and social engagement.
“Trying to preserve some sense of normalcy is really important for people’s well-being,” Dr. Russell G. Buhr, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health medical center, told the New York Times.
According to Buhr, maintaining a routine, like getting up and getting dressed at a certain time, can positively affect mental health.
“And good mental health promotes good physical health,” he added.
There are many things people can do to maintain their physical and mental health while staying at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following ways to stay healthy during COVID-19:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other addictive vices.
- Make time to unwind. After finishing your daily tasks, try to do some other activities you really enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you care for and trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Connecting with others is one of the most important ways people can stay healthy while social distancing.
In fact, during the World Health Organization’s (WHO) press briefing on March 20, the phrase “social distancing” was replaced with “physical distancing”, to accurately highlight the need to physically separate from others, but still remain socially connected.
“We’re changing to say ‘physical distance’… because we want people to still remain connected,” Dr. Maria Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said in the briefing.
“It doesn’t mean that, socially, we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family,” Dr. Kerkhove said. “…Technology right now has advanced so greatly that we can keep connected in many ways without actually physically being in the same space with people.”
The WHO stressed that keeping the physical distance from people is absolutely essential.
By practicing self-care, as well as continuing to follow health officials’ guidelines on proper hygiene procedures, physical distancing and other preventative measures, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Remember to care for each other and stay connected out there, Rams, and reach out for support whenever needed.