From the working poor to the homeless just struggling to survive, people living in poverty deal with an enormous amount of stress on a daily basis. After overcoming winter, where stress levels are at their highest, the fear and anxiety of facing the deadly COVID 19 virus can be overwhelming.
An inordinate amount of stress gradually compromises the immune system and puts this already vulnerable population at an even higher risk. This marginalized population has been left out of the conversation and will again suffer through this pandemic crisis without the care and resources needed.
Know the facts to help reduce stress. Share the facts about COVID-19. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
From Psychology Today here are some tips helpful in managing anxiety during this extraordinary time:
- Stay informed and updated on the news—but (important but) limit your exposure to TV images of pain and suffering so as not to become overwhelmed by grief. Consider reading the news online or in a “real” newspaper instead.
- Focus on the positive actions you can take to prevent exposure to the virus, including social distancing, hand-washing, and wearing a face mask while you’re around others in places like grocery and liquor stores.
- Don’t catastrophize or minimize the health crisis by exaggerating statistics or allowing loudly opinionated, under-informed public figures to influence you.
- Remind yourself “this too shall pass,” and when it does, we will have changed for the better, if we learn from our experiences to be more resilient in the face of future challenges.
- Reflect with gratitude on everything good and positive in your life and in the world.
- Think about your loved ones, your shared histories, things you’ve been through and survived together in the past.
- Make sure that voice in your head we refer to as “self-talk” directs your thoughts and actions from a place of information to a place of positive action.
Even after we “open up” the state and go back to “normal,” nothing will be normal. “The first tip in talking about a traumatic experience like the pandemic: Don’t expect yourself, or life or the world, to be exactly the same as you and they were before the novel coronavirus arrived in our lives. Becoming resilient means accepting that things, including yourself, will be different.
By Eric Lee