The following considerations were compiled by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This information is especially sensitive to the major adjustments working adults have had to make and the possible reactions to this collective traumatic experience.
Because we are in this midst of a disaster response marathon, it is helpful to pause and tell yourself you are doing the best you can. "A sprinter's pace is just not sustainable." Mental and physical breaks will be needed.
Mindfulness, meditation, or breathing exercises slow down the emotional centers of the brain, and help to reduce stress. I recommend the Head Space app.
3. Find a work buddy, and check in daily:
Suffering in isolation only makes things worse. Find someone who is going through similar things. This may be someone who also has no family near by, someone who is a single parent balancing work and kids, or someone who is also being treated unjustly due to policy decisions regarding relief and stimulus resources.
4. Exercise daily. even if its just for a few minutes:
Exercise, along with deep breathing, are two of the most important practices to reduce the effects of chronic stress on the brain. This could be something as simple as a 10 minute walk, while taking work calls. Need some convincing exercise and deep breathing play an important role check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuyPuH9ojCE.
5. Practice good sleep hygiene, as best as you can given circumstances:
This is easier said than done, so apply a good dose of self-compassion. When possible try to make your bedroom a stress free zone. At the least, try to avoid extended amounts of time on screens while lying in your bed. This helps train the brain to see your bed as a place for sleep. Calm is a good app for sleep.
6. Practice healthy eating, as best as you can:
Practice moderation, have a regular eating schedule, and choose nutrient-rich foods, avoiding sugary drinks. Choose water as often as possible and wash hands prior to preparing food—a good tip whether we are in a pandemic or not.
7. Communicate your concerns and needs:
In any of your roles at work, home, or regarding your physical, mental, or emotional health, take this opportunity to vocalize your needs. Especially in your work responsibilities, if you are concerned about the limits of your own flexibility you may be surprised what your employers are willing to do to accommodate to your needs.
8. Social connecting Apps:
Look into Apps to find additional support and social connection. Media/Tech platforms can help feel more connected, set up systems of accountability for exercise, and reduce anxiety for loved ones who are in different cities, states, or countries.
9. Self-compassion and compassion for others:
People react to traumatic and stressful events in very diverse ways. Practice compassion for yourself and others as we move through this temporary worldwide experience.
Jimmy Bridges, PhD, LMFT, CFLE
Dr. Jimmy Bridges (he/his/him) is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified family life educator. He offers trauma-informed therapy related to anxiety disorders, mood disorders, parenting, faith transitions, queer affirming services, CNM/Poly and couple’s counseling. He offers online services for teens, adults, couples and families.