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Self-Care During COVID-19

In these uncertain and unprecedented times, there is a lot to think about; so much so that it can be hard to focus, prioritize and think straight. We are thinking about our families, our coworkers, the people we support and people we don’t even know. It’s a lot.

Here is some helpful information that can help us refocus from the Emergency Medicine Ottawa Blog and developmental sources.

Emergency Medicine Ottawa Blog

A great resource to support children during this time, is the COVIBOOK linked below on how to talk to children about the Corona Virus. The book is available in 16 different languages!

COVIBOOK

Six Steps You Can Take

1. Knowledge is Power but Reduce the Noise

    It’s easy to get lost in the information we are being inundated with. Every single corporation I’ve ever given my email address to has sent me a COVID related message lately.

    Read reputable news sources. Consider turning off notifications on your devices and limiting your social media access. If it is making you feel anxious, take a step back. You can always come back once you’ve had a break

    2. COVID-19: Fact versus Fear

    There is a lot of information flying around these days. Sometimes it’s easy to get confused between what is opinion, myth or fact. Try to stick to the facts of what is known right now.

    Here are some reliable sources:

    3. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

    • What are ways to plan for the fears that are most likely to occur? As an example, talk to your family about a logical plan if you were to self-isolate. Where would you sleep? Who could help your family? Focusing on action items is a good way to channel energy.
    • Can you prevent any of your worries from happening? If you are worried about the potential financial impact, talk to your financial planners to create a strategy.
    • Recognize that there are some things you can control (such as good personal hygiene and meal planning) and some things you cannot control. Instead of focusing on the things you cannot control, can you put that energy elsewhere (such as sanitizing your environment, pre-cooking meals, or planning activities in the home.)

    4. Now is the Time for Self-Care

    In times of chronic stress, our body systems start to accumulate stress, and we start feeding off the stress of others and vice versa. Research shows us that emotions are contagious. How are you and your energy affecting those around you? It’s important you are in-tune with your stress-response systems and re-set minimally twice daily. Two minutes is amazing, or 30 seconds can help too.

    • Know which activities (physical, mental, social, emotional or spiritual) give you energy and make you feel safe and secure. Commit to participating in these activities now more than ever.
    • In moments when you are feeling overwhelmed use grounding techniques to bring you back to the present. An example is noticing five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
    • Pick a song, listen to the lyrics and breathe with the beat of the music.
    • Try box breathing: breathe in through your nose to the count of four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs. Hold for a count of four. Slowly let the breathe out of your mouth to the count of four, exhaling completely. Hold for a count of four. Begin again. Ideally complete six rounds of this exercise.

    5. Connect, Don’t Completely Isolate

    Maintaining connection (even from a distance) with your people is critical. Find alternative ways to connect with those who make you feel safe, secure and calm, such as FaceTime, What’s App, phone calls and online forums. If people you are connecting with are increasing your own anxiety, take a break from them. If you feel like you need other support, access your EFAP program, or online and remote counselling and mental health supports.

    6. The Status Quo: Maintain Routine

    In times of unknown, maintaining your status quo routine as much as possible will help keep your equilibrium and your body and mind calm. Keep your regular sleep/wake patterns, eat at the same times you normally do, get dressed, brush your teeth, go outside for fresh air and exercise regularly.

    Taking care of yourself is absolutely crucial in this unknown. Much like the oxygen mask on and airplane- you have to have yours on before supporting others. Engage in self-care and look out for each other. We don’t know what comes next but confirming we are taking care of ourselves and those we care for will ensure we are ready for what this adventure may bring.

    Stay safe and well,

    Amelia Larson, MSW, RSW, BASc
    Clinical Practice Lead
    Aspen Family & Community Network