It’s been a month since Governor Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down, leaving the majority of Lancaster County unemployed or working from home. Those deemed essential are on the frontlines of the healthcare industry, running our grocery stores, driving trucks to haul our goods and policing our streets. We don’t know how long this pandemic will endure, nor the lasting effects it will have on our “new normal.” It’s a stressful time for everyone as we face COVID-19.
It’s important to recognize the signs of stress on your body, according to John Troutman of Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP who recently led a Lancaster Chamber Webinar on mental health during COVID-19. Headaches, insomnia, increased heart rate, stomachaches, and heartburn can all be signs that stress is taking a toll on our bodies. If you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of stress and depression, please reach out to someone. There are resources at the bottom of this page for you.
If you feel like you are stuck in a quarantine funk, here are some suggestions to hopefully help you tackle the days easier.
- Find a routine that works for you.
- Make sure everyone in your house has a space where they can go to be alone.
- Remind yourself this is temporary. You will be reunited with your loved ones again. You will be able to attend happy hour again. You won’t always be stuck at home. Think of all those moments you will be able to share once this is over.
- Lean on your family and friends. If you are struggling, tell someone. Make sure you are checking up on your friends and coworkers too. Let them know you are there if they need to talk.
- Have a childlike sense of wonder. It will keep each day interesting.
- Give yourself radical self-acceptance. You are living through a pandemic. It’s okay if you are not as productive as you “should” be. It’s okay to eat a donut. It’s okay to do whatever you need to feel okay.
- Give those around you the benefit of the doubt. Let outbursts pass and step away from arguments. This situation is taking a mental toll on everyone.
- Find a way to release negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner, whether that is venting to a friend or going for a run.
- Pace yourself. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the work and projects you want to complete while at home. Take everything day by day, step by step. Start one project at a time.
- Limit your social media consumption, especially regarding COVID. Disconnect for most of the day and try to only check in 2-3 times daily.
- Find time for exercise every day. Go out for a walk, or if you don’t feel comfortable going outside, throw on a YouTube workout or dance to your favorite songs.
- Check up on your kids. They rely on routines made by others to make them feel safe, according to Psychoanalyst Lisa Fishman. A disruption in their routine can cause increased anxiety, meltdowns, fears, difficulty sleeping and testing limits. Respond to them gently when they lash out rather than giving consequences and punishments.
- Find hobbies that involve moving, such as knitting, painting, sculpting, drumming or jump roping.
- Help others. Offer to buy groceries for your at-risk neighbor. Support your local restaurants and give generous tips. Send kind messages to your friends. Helping others can give us a sense of agency when things seem out of control, Lisa says.
Sources: Lisa Fishman, Psychoanalyst, LCSW and John Troutman, Mazzitti & Sullivan – EAP.
If you are struggling mentally or emotionally, please reach out for help.
Open Path – therapists providing online sessions between $30-60.
Psychology Today – therapists in Lancaster.
BetterHelp – online counseling.
Talkspace – online counseling.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Lancaster County Crisis Intervention Hotline: 717-394-2631
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster DIstress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Department of Health and Human Services National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357