We are all aware that this is a time of crisis, and we are all human. That means we worry, we get upset, and we stress about what is happening. We are all affected by what is happening around us and what we hear on the news and the Internet. For many of us, it puts us into a “crisis mode,” which entails putting things in order in our homes and at work and helping out others until we are absolutely exhausted. We’re tired and our energy is drained, we feel awful all the time, but our schedules are packed with even more.
But what about our bodies and our mental health while we are trying to accomplish all this? Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that we have to take care of ourselves during this crisis. If not, our bodies will be so weak, and our immune systems so low, that we won’t be able to fight off the Coronavirus when it comes to our community. Self-care is important! We need to slow down and think about ourselves a bit.
Response to a crisis depends on our backgrounds. Everyone responds differently. Some people are programmed from birth to handle crisis strongly, and with little difficulty. Others of us have never been involved in one and won’t handle it as well. But there are inherently some groups that will be affected more despite our backgrounds.
One of those groups is older people with chronic illness. They are at a higher risk. Another is children and teens. Response team members are another group that sometimes have a hard time handling crisis, despite the fact that we tend to think of them as being “Super Men and Women.” And lastly, people with mental health problems and substance abuse issues tend to deal with crisis badly.
Wherever we fall into those categories, it is important that we take care of ourselves throughout a crisis as best we can. Crisis tends to cause fear and worry about our own health and that of our loved ones. It causes change in sleep and eating patterns. It causes difficulty concentrating and worsening of existing health problems. And it can cause an increase in use of alcohol or other drugs. And believe it or not, listening to the barrage of newscasts and items on television and on social media regarding the crisis can be severely upsetting and cause even more stress, which then causes more problems physically and mentally.
Children and teens need to be talked to and reassured that things will be okay in the long run. They need to be told that it’s okay to be upset. We should show them how we deal with the situation and be an example so they can learn how to cope. Limiting exposure to coverage of the situation on television, the internet, or social media will help a great deal in lowering their stress level because the younger children can misinterpret what they hear. Keeping a regular routine really helps them as well. The more “normal” things appear to them, the better children cope.
However, taking care of ourselves as adults is the most important. If we don’t care for ourselves, how can we care for those we love, whether they be children, teens, aging parents, or our neighbors whom we love as well. It’s especially important that we eat healthy, well-balanced meals; exercise regularly; get plenty of sleep; and avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. And the big one – learn to say “no.” Sometimes we have to say “no” when asked to do something that will put us over the edge into “just too much.”
And just a side note, helping and serving others makes one feel better emotionally and spiritually.
And stay home if you have symptoms of the Coronavirus. Don’t feel you have to push to help someone or work even if you have the symptoms. It’s not worth it to you or others.
Self-care is the most important thing right now if we are going to make it through this time of crisis. We have to be strong and healthy to do the things we need to do to fight this “enemy.”