TAKING CARE OF YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK: A GUIDE FOR STUDENTS

This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation (measures required of the public to limit and control the spread of the COVID-19 disease). It suggests ways to care for your emotional health during those experiences and provides additional resources.

TYPICAL REACTIONS

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations such as an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing, quarantine, or isolation. You may feel:

1. Anxious, worried or fearful as it pertains to:

  • What other changes will occur that you will be required to make adjustments to/for in order to cope, stay safe, and survive
  • Your own health status
  • The health status of others whom you may have exposed to the disease
  • The resentment that your friends and family may feel if they need to go into quarantine as a result of contact with you
  • The experience of monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of the disease
  • Time taken off from work and the potential loss of income and job security
  • The challenges of securing things you need, such as groceries and personal care items
  • Caring for children or others in your care
  • Completing your academic program on schedule and moving forward with the pursuit of your personal and professional goals

2. Uncertainty, frustration, or ambivalence about the situation, how long you will need to remain in this situation, and uncertainty about the future

3. Loneliness associated with feeling cut off from the world and from your friends and loved ones

4. Anger if you think you were exposed to the disease because of someone else's negligence

5. Bordeom and frustration because you may not be able to engage in your regular day-to-day activites

6. A desire to use gaming, food, drugs, alcohol or other substances, and other unhealthy strategies to cope

7. A sense of grief and loss if you personally know of someone who died from complications of COVID-19 or, as you hear about the thousands who are in hospitals or have lost thier lives within the past few weeks.

8. Symtoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much

9. Syptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as intrusive distressing memories, nightmares, changes in thoughts and mood, and being easily startled

HELPFUL COPING STRATEGIES

1. Connect with others. Reach out to others via telephone, text messaging, email, or social media. Talk "face-to-face" via FactTime, Skype or other virtual means.

2. Talk about your experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends, when you find it helpful.

3. Relax you body often by doing things that work for you - take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activites you enjoy.

4. STOP, BREATHE, then THINK. Slowing your breathing helps to slow the stress cycle and re-engages your frontal lobes. This helps you to think more clearly and rationally.

5. Pace yourself between stressful activites, and do something fun after a hard task.

6. Know your limits. It might take you longer to think through and make sense of some things, so be intentional about how much information you consume. Practice tuning out from social media or the constant flow of information so that you can focus on completing your school requriements.

7. Take care of your basic physical needs. Get as least 7-8 hours of sleep each night; eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegitables; drink plenty of water; and engage in physical activity (the Andreasen Cneter of Wellness offers online exercise classes on their Facebook and Instagram pages!)

8. Manage your tendency to worry and become anxious by asking yourself whether the things you are worrked or concerned about are real or hypothetical. If they are real, ask what it is that you can do about the problem, do what you can, then let the worry go and change your focus of attention. If your concern is hypothetical and there is nothing you can do, then let go of the worry and shift your focus of attention.

9. Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Embrace uncertainty with a sense of calm and quiet reslove that you will use healthy coping strategis to cope during these difficult times and that you will seek help when needed.

10. If you are experiencing grief, it's okay to feel the pain of loss. Acknowledge any feelings of grief, sadness or distress that you might be experiencing  as you give yourself permission to process the loss. Those feelings of sadness and distress can eventually progress to feelings of acceptance and resolution. Be gentle with yourself.

11. Some people find prayer and meditation to be extremely useful, especially during times of distress.

12. Maintian hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well. Remember that your thoughts strongly influence how you feel and behave. Negative thoughts yield negative feelings and behaviors while positive, optimistic thoughts yield positive feelings and behaviors.

13. If you are quarantied at home, and you're worried about physical sypmtoms you or your loved ones may be experiencing, call your doctor or health care provider. Ask your provider whether it would be possible to schedule remote appointments. In the event that your doctor is unavailable and you are feeling stresed or are in crisis, call the hotline numbers listed on this page for support.

14. Do not heistate to seek out a behavioral health professional or counselor to help you work through your emotional concerns (see some resources below).

15. If you are feeling suicidal call 911, or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Be well and stay safe.

This fact sheet was adopted from: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/tips-social-distancing-quarantine-isolation-031620.pdf and https://www.ics.ac.uk/ICS/Education/Wellbeing/ICS/Wellbeing.aspx?hkey=92348f51-a875-4d87-8ae4-245707878a5c

Compiled and submitted by

Stacey Nicely
Staff Psychologist/Prevention Coordinator
Counseling & Testing
 
 
 
 
 
Counseling and Testing
Phone: (269) 471-3470
Alternate Phone: (269) 471-3470
E-mail: ctcenter@andrews.edu

Mailing Address
Counseling and Testing
Bell Hall suite123
Counseling and Testing Center
Berrien Springs, MI 49104-0130