The coronavirus has changed the way we function in our daily lives. We have to limit how many people we see and even where we go. Staying physically healthy is the most important thing we can do now but staying mentally healthy is just as important. Counselor Dr. Maria Paredes from Three Birds Counseling took your questions to help you cope with this time.
What a lot of people might be experiencing is grief. The loss may not be of an actual person’s death but experiencing a different type of loss. The loss of anticipated plans, of anticipated income, of a sense of security and predictability. The loss of not being able to see loved ones, especially during important milestones like birthdays or upcoming holidays.
So, no matter what type of loss you’re feeling right now, consider these tips for managing typical grief.
Ideas for celebrating holidays away from loved ones:
- Zoom/Facetime with family and friends. Set up family members at the table where all can see and proceed as though they’re there!
- Break out old photos or family videos and recall stories of past get togethers
- Play music that reminds you of loved ones not present,
- Eat foods that remind you of your family's cultural traditions.
Give yourself permission to do things differently.
- Maybe you don’t have the energy (or food supplies) to prepare the same dishes. Maybe you don’t feel up for doing the same traditions normally done with loved ones.
Give yourself permission to do things the same, even without family members typically there.
- It’s okay to still have fun and enjoy the holiday even if you’re not with your family members. Perhaps it would feel good to still do some of the traditions that typically include other family members not there.
Give yourself permission to play it by ear.
- Perhaps you wake up with energy to “do all the holiday things” but by midday, you don’t want to crawl under a blanket and watch Netflix. It’s okay to change your mind!
Give yourself permission to feel bummed out.
- This is not a normal time and you don’t have to ignore or stuff your feelings or reactions to what’s happening. Allow yourself room to feel disappointed.
Consider whether it would feel good to practice gratitude.
- Practicing gratitude can often be a wonderful way of gaining perspective, humility, compassion, and connection. It has even been shown to improve emotions, energy level, and immune system functioning.
But remember, it’s also fine if you need to just feel angry right now. Anger is also an important emotion to experience and make space for (as long as you’re not hurting someone else or yourself).
Find a release: laugh, stretch, dance party it out, cry, breathe deeply. Give your body a break from feeling so tense.
And finally, remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever. You’ll get to return normal life with friends and family traditions eventually!
Here are some more things to consider.
- The federal department of Health and Human Services provides a disaster hotline for people dealing with Mental health or substance abuse issues. You can call 1-800-985-5990 24/7 for help. Click here for details on everything that they offer.
- If you're looking for an online AA meeting. Click here. If you'd like to learn more about local AA groups that may still provide support click here.
- For a list of local healthcare providers who provide Telehealth click here.
- If you or someone you know is dealing with a domestic violence issue you can call the National Domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also access their website by clicking here. The website also offers online chat functions and an escape function for those who believe that they're being monitored.
- Yoga can be a great way to exercise and release some of the stress you're encountering. There are several digital and inexpensive options available. Click here and here to see some of them.
- Dr. Paredes also offers free grounding exercises that anyone can do at home on her Instagram. Click here to see them.
- Project Parachute is a pro bono teletherapy service offered for coronavirus front line workers, right out of Chapel Hill. You can read more about it here.
FACTS NOT FEAR
Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the same measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses. That means washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.
WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media.
NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE
The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.
You can also text keyword VIRUS to WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775 to find out more information.