William H. Byrd, Ph.D.
Psychological and Educational Associates, PLLC
2826 Eastern Ave., N.W. Suite 325
Washington, D.C. 20012
DEVELOPING AND STRENGTHENING HEALTHFUL HABITS TO EMERGE POST-PANDEMIC WITH EMOTIONAL WELL BEING
Developing and strengthening healthful habits to emerge post pandemic with emotional well-being is a challenge that we all face during these turbulent times. Positive well-being is the ability to practice stress-management that results in believing that your life matters, your actions can lead to positive change and you have a purpose in life. Of course, people who describe themselves as generally happy do experience negative emotions resulting in feelings of sadness, anxiety and anger since they are natural and healthy reactions to events and situations. However, experiencing some traumatic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and debilitating.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the very core of our psychological foundation and caused us to question whether we can survive and thrive post pandemic. The mind and body are suffering an ongoing traumatic event that is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and with possible fatal outcomes. Some have experienced the trauma up close and personal in the near loss or loss of loved ones or by being infected by the virus themselves. Others have witnessed the trauma vicariously by ongoing media exposure. Yet all of us are victims of the stressful collateral damage of this horrific virus: altered daily routines, financial pressures, social isolation pressures, employment pressures, interpersonal relationship pressures, family pressures, and psychological pressures.
Stress can be pervasive and exhaustive over a long period of time in which can lead to symptoms of depression such as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, intrusive thoughts, irritability, lack of concentration, lack of energy, loneliness, and feelings of sadness due to loss or multiple losses of family and friends.
People may also experience substance abuse as well as anxiety that manifests from worrying about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, whether you’ll lose your home or your job, and how you will survive in the future. In order to minimize the impact of COVID-19 stressors, as we all are impacted, proactive strategies must be utilized with persistence and consistency.
TIPS FOR MANAGING STRESS:
- Make self-care a priority
- Maintain and/or develop rituals and habits that nurtures positive self- worth
- Set specific person-centered goals that are realistic and can be achieved within a set time
- Set boundaries regarding what you will and won’t accept and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life
- Maintain healthy relationships with friends, family and colleagues
- Identify your circle of support and maintain contact; express your feelings and concerns
- Maintain connection with community entities such as sororities, fraternities, social clubs and faith-based organizations
- Identify resources you can depend on for accurate health information. Learn from them about the outbreak and how you can protect yourself against illness. You may seek information from your family doctor, a state or local health department, or U.S. government agencies
- Limit exposure to COVID-19 information that focuses on the death rate and the number of positive cases day by day
- Be mindful of negative self-messages; self-correct and substitute with positive messages and affirmations
- Stay Focus on things in your life that you can control
- Engage in soothing activities such as journaling, listening to music, watching a movie that is humorous, drawing, and deep breathing exercises
- Take care of your body by eating healthy and well-balanced meals, getting 6-8 hours of sleep nightly, and engaging in some physical activity such as walking or jogging
Be “MINDFUL” of some common signs of distress:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, frustration, or helplessness
- Changes in appetite, energy, activity levels, and sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and completing tasks
- Preoccupied with fears that something awful may happen
- Diminished interest in activities and interacting with others
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
If you experience these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out your responsibilities because of them seek professional mental health support.
If you or someone you know talks or writes about death, dying or suicide or threatens to hurt or kill him or herself, seek professional mental health services immediately.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Toll Free: 1-800-273-8755 immediately.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673