On this page, we offer a variety of different perspectives and recommendations regarding the actions that can be taken by those who have tested positive, those who have tested negative and those who have not yet been tested. The first set of actions concern the specific ways in which we cope with the anxiety associated with this virulent virus. On subsequent pages we focus on the head and heart. [Click below on page 2 for head and on page 3 for heart]
Managing the Stress and Anxiety
There are many challenges associated with the elevated stress and anxiety aroused by the COVID-19virus for all of us. The stress and anxiety may have been activated by worries about health, finances, job or family welfare.–these are all very real and legitimate sources of concern. Stress and anxiety inevitably are induced when we think about the virus. Strong feelings ae elicited about the virus and we struggle to find the appropriate actions to take in confronting COVID-19.
We begin this statement about action by linking to essays on stress and anxiety associated with the virus that have been published in the Library of Professional Psychology. These essays were prepared by members of the Global Community Task Force. They include, first, a video presentations by William Bergquist, Suzanne Brennan Nathan and Christy Lewis, as well as written statements and links to other sites including a report from Eliza Yong, one of our Singapore task force members:
A second document was prepared by Ivan Zy Lim, one of our other Task Force members from Singapore. He asks what the Coronavirus has taught us in our life and suggests that it has taught us about the signaling (“FLAG”) of stress as well as ways to reduce stress:
Having set the stage in our analysis of the stress and anxiety associated with the virus, we now turn to three dimensions of action: health, head and heart.
The actions to be taken are obviously and widely reported. We must wash our hands frequently and be diligent about sanitation. One of our Task Force members, Ivan Zy Lim, suggests that we “wash” our hands in a mindful way that “sanitizers” our head and heart as well as our hands. Here is a link to what he has to say:
Ivan also offers advise about the anxiety-reducing practice of enacting healing sounds:
Whether mindful or not and whether remaining silent or voicing some healing sounds, we must fully “hunker down”. This means not just staying at home most of the time, but also planning carefully for the tasks we complete when we do leave home (to minimize close interactions with other people). We must store up food, medicines and (in most cases) tools to be used for our work-at-home. What food will last the longest if we will be isolated for an extended period of time? Canned food is obvious, but we might also want to look at the expiration dates on non-canned foods (for example, almond milk lasts longer than dairy milk).
There are obviously other health care concerns that we must address. We must be certain that we have a sufficient supply of the medications we take, as well as retaining an adequate support of medications we might need if we catch a cold or the flu (aspirin, pain killers, cough medicine, etc.). We also might want to consider various foods, vitamin pills and herbs that are often considered to be aides to our health – such as green tea, honey, and various grains –and perhaps the more controversial supplements–which are as varied as Vitamin C and Vitamin D, on the one hand, and Zink and Elderberry pills on the other hand.
What if we do have to go out for supplies or essential meetings. Many “necessary” commercial operations remaining open–such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. As we are now all aware, the grocery stories and pharmacies are often taking actions to reduce the number of customers in the store at any one time, are scheduling special hours for senior citizens and those most vulnerable, and/or setting up home delivery or pick-up operations. We need to pay close attention to these changes in schedules and routines — usually by going to the website of the store.
But what about our interactions with other people. Keeping the distance is important (regardless of the press conferences you are now observing on the cable news stations.As the old saying goes, follow what they say not what they do! Yet, we are pulled to actually acknowledge another person’s existence and our relationship with them. We can’t shake hands, but we can do the elbow bump. One of our Task Force members from Singapore, Ivan Zy Lim, suggests that we even consider the Chinese “handshake” — which involves using the hands to symbolize the relationship without actually being in physical contact with the other person. Perhaps we can all be a bit “Chinese” –for at least a short while. Here is a link to what Ivan has offered: