Pressured During The Pandemic; Useful Tips To Help Us Cope
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels
Director Community and Public Relations
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center
If you’re trying to cope with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. The coronavirus has dominated people’s lives for the last several months. We’re constantly inundated with news of COVID-19. We’re physically separated from our family, friends, workplaces, and schools. And as we begin to return to school, work, and other activities, we’re being asked to comply with a whole new set of rules for social engagement.
“You are not alone in your feelings,” says Nancy Georgekutty, MD, an independently practicing family medicine physician. “Being worried and isolated can take its toll, both mentally and physically, and this can lead to depression and anxiety.”
Dr. Georgekutty offers the following suggestions to help you manage the loneliness, stress, and anxiety we’re feeling during this unusual time.
1. Take breaks from watching the news. While it’s important to stay informed, information overload can take its toll on our mental health. Dr. Georgekutty suggests viewing the cdc.gov website for the latest information on COVID-19 and avoiding unreliable sources.
2. Limit your time on social media. These sites are not necessarily accurate news sources, and they can have an overabundance of skewed stories about COVID-19.
3. Be mindful of your mental health. Talk to someone you trust if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and acknowledge your feelings, whether they be loneliness, sadness, frustration, or depression. Get outside and take breaks. Walk your dog, play some music and dance, or participate in an exercise video. Dr. Georgekutty says that physical exercise can reduce depression, as cited in a study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.
4. Meet up with a friend — either via video chat or in person. If in person, be sure to follow guidelines for wearing a mask and keeping a distance of 6 feet.
5. Host a virtual book club and invite friends to discuss it in a video chat. Video chats can make you feel more connected because you see the facial expressions of friends and family.
6. Prepare a virtual dinner. Ask friends to make a dish and share the recipe. Sit down together to eat while talking with one another on the phone or through Zoom or Skype.
Teens are also feeling the effects of the pandemic, Dr. Georgekutty says. “They may experience heightened stress because they’re still maturing emotionally and intellectually, and they want more freedom and privacy at a time when it’s difficult to have either. It’s natural to be upset because they miss social activities with friends, school, clubs, or sports,” she says. Here are Dr. Georgekutty’s tips for supporting our teenagers.
1. Allow them some decision-making authority within the family so they have some sense of control in their lives.
2. Find ways for your teens to indulge their passions. For example, if they love nature or art, help them find national parks, zoos, conservation organizations, or museums online that offer live chats, virtual courses, and virtual tours.
3. Give your teens plenty of room. Allow them privacy when they’re calling a friend or video chatting.
4. Listen with an empathetic ear. “Staying at home forces teens to give up their familiar routine, and pent-up anger and sadness are normal,” Dr. Georgekutty says. “It’s important to let your teens express those feelings.”
5. Try to set a good example and remain calm. Model appropriate hygiene and social distancing, and teens will likely follow suit.
6. Maintain a normal routine as much as possible. Designate times for schoolwork, gaming, and chores, as well as digital socializing with friends and family.
Taking over the role of teacher presents an additional level of stress for parents and their children. “Try not to stress out on home schooling, even if the last time you solved an algebra equation was in high school,” Dr. Georgekutty says. “The internet has access to all sorts of free online educational sites to keep your children’s’ brains engaged.”
1. For reading and math basics, good online resources include Scholastic Kids, 3Blue1Brown, patrickjmt.com, arcademics.com, outschool.com, and Khan Academy. For nature and science education, explore the interactive learning tools offered by National Geographic Kids, Scitable, Edheads, Curiosity Machine, Teachers TryScience, and NASA’s STEM Engagement and Space Place sites.
2. Consider teaming up with other parents to trade lesson plans. Whether you’re alternating video classes based on your personal skill sets or simply taking turns reading chapters in books, children will get to virtually see their friends, and you alone won’t be responsible for all of the work.
3. Assign an age-appropriate research project on a topic of your child’s choosing. University libraries and archives have all kinds of digitized special collections, from rare manuscripts at the Beinecke Library to the Civil Rights Digital Library at the University of Georgia. The American Archive of Public Broadcasting has thousands of interview recordings on a variety of educational and entertaining topics.
“Overall, try to be sensitive and flexible when interacting with your children, and be kind and patient with yourself,” Georgekutty says.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or depression, it’s OK to seek help. To find a physician on the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center medical staff, call 214-947-6296 or visit MethodistHealthSystem.org/Doctors/.
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals.