That Covid Feeling
Restless sleep? Irritable? Rapid heartbeats? Frustrated? Crying spells? Unknown anxiety? It’s not surprising. Covid has hit us physically, mentally and emotionally. We hear daily about the physical warning symptoms and dangerous complications of this Covid virus. Our new mantra is; wash your hands, put on your mask and practice social distancing. We answer the physical because it involves action; things we can do that helps us feel more in control. Although the mental and emotional signs are more uncomfortable and difficult to talk about; they need our attention. These disturbing feelings make us feel like we live in a war zone. The symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) have become all too real. This virus has exploded across our country leaving 90% of Americans experiencing stress symptoms such as heart-racing, recurring night terrors, anger, irritable, insecurity and fear. In non- Covid times, 5.3% of the general population suffers from symptoms of PTSD. It has been reported that during this Covid pandemic 27% of Americans are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of fear, anxiety and anger. Many of us are grieving and mourning our health, fearing its loss and mourning the loss of friends and loved ones. Too many we know, have died. Our grieving grows daily.
The American Psychology Association: Stress in America Poll[i] on the emotional and mental impact of these uncertain Covid times found 7 in 10 Americans stated they feel stressed. This stress is affecting our young through seniors. All the normal routines of our lives from work to health; education to exercise and entertainment have been upended.
Even in non-Covid times, fear is a major underlying cause of anxiety and depression. In Covid times, we fear the unknown. After months of Covid restrictions, we have no end-date which challenges us to remain healthy in body, mind and spirit. We experience a profound loss as we are isolated from friends, colleagues and family. We long for the life we had before. We are in an unknown territory of uncertainty and our minds know it. As our situational anxiety rises so does our despair creating a rise in suicides. We have the perfect storm of medical professionals to law enforcement to the public in need of mental health support. We can add an increase in substance abuse and gun sales to this unstable mental health climate. Our emotional state is fragile.
Can we regain a peaceful, loving state amidst Covid? We can but it will take a new thinking about your mind, body and spirit connection in order to live well in an unclear Covid future.
As a long time patient, advocate and nurse specialist and counselor, I know we do our best with others who can relate to our experiences and situations. For those of us battling illness or any imbalance in our lives, the common bond of sharing the earthquake of disease is an instant support. Now we have the support of each other in conquering Covid. Just like with chronic illness, we have a remarkable ability to adjust and overcome. It is time to take action because without intervention the negative mental/emotional health effects of the coronavirus can be serious and long-lasting.
Being a seasoned illness warrior my journey has taken me down some ‘less travelled’ roads that may help us weather this Covid storm. We will have to be open to embracing new ways to live that may bring you more peace, less frustration and anxiety and improve your sense of wellbeing. Change is always a struggle. In order to make a long lasting, beneficial change; we must show courage, being willing to speak to fear the same way we embrace speaking to truth.
Coming Back Tips:
· Make multiple Post It signs; “I am not alone in my feelings”. Put them everywhere until you can feel this as a ‘fact’.
· Find a friend to share your Covid emotions; make scheduled check-ins weekly. Consider writing what this time is like and how you are responding. Check out other resources to help you feel more comfortable.
· Take a drive and enjoy our environment. A day trip can keep you safe and break the monotony of isolation.
· What challenges face you? What possibilities? Every day write down three (3) actions you can do to reduce your fears, angers, frustrations? Share them. Your voice is important.
· Include time every day to identify what you look forward to in your non-Covid future. Expressing your goals and dreams will inspire you and others.
· Create a sacred space in your home where you surround yourself with objects, color, scents, visuals, sounds that help you feel calm. Be sure others know it is “off limits’ to them.
· Start practicing a relaxation method in your new sacred space. This can be breathing techniques, meditation, uplifting readings, podcasts, etc. Commit to engaging there daily for at least 30 minutes.
· Like yourself enough to groom and dress every day. Dress your surroundings and declutter your space. Doing this will help lift your energy and mood.
· Step out of yourself. During the Covid crisis many heroes have emerged. Each of us has the ability to be of comfort to someone else. You won’t have to look far; so many need a friend to lend support and help with everyday activities of living. Realize we can pay this forward.
This may be a time when we realize we need professional help to get us started or move us forward. Maybe your support helps someone else get the assistance they have always needed.
o Georgia Crisis and Access hotline: 1-800-715-4225, free, available 24/7.
o Georgia Covid 19 Emotional Support Line: 1-866-399-8938, free, available 24/7, confidential
We have an opportunity to develop a model of response to pandemics. Covid has taught us to expect there will be new viruses to tackle in a more responsible manner that decreases the severity of symptoms and spread. We can do a better job of improving our physical and emotional response to illness and life-threatening pandemics.
Taking action is always difficult. Get any support you need to move from insecurity and fear. The truth is, as you make earnest headway reducing your stress, you will feel pain from cracking the insolation of your fear and anxiety. However, it is also true that you will break a harmful cycle becoming better equipped at creating your own peace to help you through future challenges and crisis. You will feel empowered.
At ARxC, we are here to help answer your questions. Contact us at email@example.com. Share your challenges and tips for coping. Addressing our Covid life will empower all of us. Let us know how you are doing. We are here to care.
 Case Western Reserve University: Covid19 Pandemic and Emotional Wellbeing Study; https://case.edu/socialwork/traumacenter/resources/covid-19-research/april-2020-data-snapshot
 American Psychological Association, Stress in America Press Room; Stress in America 2020, Stress in the Time of Covid, Volume3;https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8M_MiN2q6wIVE4TICh0pVQ4MEAAYASAAEgKXt_D_BwE