The following article was submitted to Smith County Insider by the Smith County Drug Prevention Coalition.
For other resources, contact the Smith County Drug Prevention Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or smithcodrugprevention.org. For 24-hour Recovery Services please call or text the TN Redline # 1-800-889-9789.
During these trying and uncertain times, taking care of your mental and emotional well-being is just as important as taking care of your physical health. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, isolated, scared, and hopeless, especially when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak is constantly evolving. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include…
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Need help? Know someone who does?
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
- Call 911
- Call Disaster Distress Hotline 1-800-985-5990 and TTY 1-800-846-8517
- Or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
- Call or text the National Suicide Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA website.
Things you can do to support yourself:
- 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 mediation apps. Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol, and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Plug into a helpful podcast.
- Practice your faith.
- Checkout self-care and wellness videos.
- Take on a crafting or DIY project.
- When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens o Poor school performance or avoiding school o Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child…
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and provide facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger. At the end of the day, your health is the most important thing. Be sure to take care of yourself, and be nice to yourself. Do something every day that makes you happy.