Let’s Talk About Coping with Covid-19

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Rosario Gutierrez

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez)

The Student Counseling Center

Stay calm! We at the Student Counseling Center recognize that it can be difficult to maintain calm in the midst of constantly changing circumstances. We also recognize that it is not realistic to ask ourselves to be calm at all times. It is important to allow ourselves to feel our feelings and at the same time to maintain the regularity of daily activities as much as possible. Therefore, we have provided some guidelines for coping with the rapidly shifting situation of COVID-19 which we hope you will find helpful. 

Recognize Signs of Distress:

  • Feeling stressed or overwhelmed
  • Increased feelings of anxiety, worry or fear  
  • Sadness, tearfulness, and/or loss of interest in enjoyable activities that persist and/or intensify
  • Sleep difficulties 
  • Inability to focus or concentrate 
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future
  • Isolating or withdrawing from others
  • Fear of going into public situations
  • Hyper-vigilance to your health and body
  • Racialized communities feeling frightened by the increase in microaggressions and micro-assaults
  • Racialized communities feeling angered by the prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and racism that COVID-19 has uncovered

Avoid Stigmatizing or Generalizing 

It is important to avoid making assumptions about community members from affected areas of the world. While our concern may spike when we hear a cough or see someone ill, avoid generalizing anyone who is sick as potentially having COVID-19. Stigma affects the emotional and mental health of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in. Stopping stigma is important to the resiliency of communities and community members. Self-awareness and situational awareness help us to examine irrational or rigid thoughts that arise when we are faced with uncertainty. Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by learning the facts and sharing them with others in your community.

Psychological Health Tips

Acknowledge reactions and feelings. Allow yourself time to reflect on how you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties of the future. Listen to your gut and internal sense of right and wrong with respect to self-preservation measures (e.g., elbow bump instead of a handshake, wash hands after social contact, limit interactions with others, etc.).

Stay connected to individuals and communities while maintaining good social distancing practices. Receiving support and care from others has a powerful effect on coping with challenges. When you feel adequately supported, pay forward the kindness by extending support and validation to others. Connect using remote communication alternatives such as video chat, text, online support groups, or phone calls to maintain social connection. When possible, opt for video over text or phone to increase the sense of connection and bonding through nonverbal cues. Consider a remote book club, a virtual happy hour, a digital dinner, or joining a new online group around your interests.

Respond to discrimination. Create a survival toolkit that includes people, activities, passions, and objects that affirm your worth, humanity, and dignity. Have your experiences witnessed by those whom you respect and value.

Maintain your day-to-day normal activities as much as possible. Get up and ready for each day, eat well, move your body, and stay in touch with friends and family. Focus on one breath and one step at a time. Focus on possible goals. 

Practice calming rituals. Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening. If you’re not sure how to do this, experiment with a guided loving-kindness meditation (Guided Loving Kindness Meditations).

Focus on what you can control. When things feel scary and unpredictable, it can be helpful to focus on what you can control including following hygiene practices and staying home when you are sick. 

Set limits around news and social media. It is understandable you want to keep informed, but at the same time constantly paying attention to news coverage can unnecessarily intensify worry and agitation. Take a break from news or social media. Pay attention to positive news instead of only focusing on negative and fear-producing news reports.

Seek accurate information and follow the protection and prevention tips given by medical professionals. Seek information from reputable sources including the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the Oregon Health Authority, and Pacific University’s COVID-19 Website at www.pacificu.edu/coronavirus.