Supporting Your Wellness During Coronavirus Outbreaks
I write you from my balcony on a beautiful, clear Friday night. At this time of year I spend as much time here as I possibly can because the weather in Dubai is just so good, and I know it will not last much longer before summer sets in.
While these are often productive evenings – time spent with friends and family, or a good book outdoors – lately, they’ve been spent consuming screen time about the COVID-19 virus.
How did we get here? What is happening next? Which border will close? Which celebrity or world leader will get it next? When will the next toilet paper fight break out in the US? The list goes on.
I am happy to report that in the UAE I, and everyone I speak to, feel this situation is being handled so well here. However, we are not immune to the messages, images and other things we see in the news and social media.
Even if we are calm and logical, coronavirus is in our subconscious and we got to bed with it. Then it is the first thing we see as we reach for our phones when we wake up.
We Are Overloaded With Information
It is normal to worry.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. I have a child with Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune condition that puts him in a vulnerable, high-risk category), my husband is in another country right now (and I wonder if he will return before more flights get cancelled), and I own a small business that might be challenged during these slower times.
Despite all this, I know I am mindlessly scrolling social media way too much at the moment and the amount of information is exhausting.
After spending the better part of one afternoon last week constantly looking for nothing, I decided enough was enough. I needed a break, and I bet you do too.
This does not mean we should not be informed, or not care.
But we really need to step back and focus on our wellness in the context of this virus.
Tips To Manage Stress
The WHO (World Health Organization) has put out some very good advice about coronavirus and wellness that isn’t just related to the spreading and prevention of COVID-19. They have also shared some tips to cope with the stress of it all. Here are a few of those plus some of my own:
Talk to people.
If you can’t be together, call them if you can. Texting is ok, but really, hearing a voice and having a conversation is so much more healthy than sharing links and texting.
A healthy diet is always important, and now more than ever. Eating well will hopefully help you fight off any viruses, and it will keep you feeling good and help you manage your overall health. There is no better time to try out that healthy recipe that you were curious about.
Do not try to manage your emotions with smoking, drugs or alcohol.
If you are doing this, please reach out and talk you someone. If you do not feel you can go out, there are now online options for support.
I am sure you are asking How? Exercise during quarantine or lockdown doesn’t need to be in social settings. You can run, go for a walk, or try one of the many exercise apps. (Stay tuned – I will share some of the best health apps in an upcoming post.)
Get the facts from trusted sources.
There are still so many unknowns. The WHO and your local health authority should be where you are getting your information from. Be careful with information from websites that are not credible sources. Follow up and verify it.
Decrease the time you spend consuming news from the TV and social media.
Consuming too much media will only increase your stress levels. It is also time taken away from exercise or something else productive. Set specific times for when you will check news and media, then leave it alone and get on with your day. If you cannot go out, turn it off and watch something else. And not a virus outbreak movie! Watch a comedy or something with a positive, uplifting message.
If you need some help in kickstarting your focus on other subjects, why not take an online course or learn about a subject you have always wanted? Did you know that even Harvard University, Carnegie Melon, Duke University MIT, Standford, Berkley and Yale have free education online? There is so much out there.
Don’t want the temptation of a screen? Then read a good old-fashioned book. If you are like me, you’ve got a few around that are overdue for your attention.
Listen to music.
Listen to music that makes you happy or takes you back to a favorite time or place. Dancing is optional… but I highly recommend it.
Talk to your kids.
If you have children and they are expressing concerns, listen to them. Instead of telling them not to worry, ask questions and let them talk. If your child is feeling stressed about what is going on, encourage them to talk about it and engage in that conversation with them by asking questions.
In order to help children understand the situation, provide your kids with age-appropriate facts. Children are pretty smart and know when we are covering things up. There are several good sources for children such as this NPR comic, Live Science and BrainPop overview.
If your child is home from school and you are home from work, spend some time together and do something as a family. It could be an art project, a board game, cleaning out a closet or helping you with that new healthy recipe.
These are just a few ideas to help you manage coronavirus and wellness, and the stress of all the media overload and uncertainty we are facing these days. Stay up to date, but with caution. This is a time where quality information is key and all the other noise needs to be consumed in moderation or as needed.
I’d love to hear how you are staying grounded right now. If you are not sure, or have any questions about resources or wellness coaching through all of this, please reach out.