7 tips to calm your corona crisis concerns

Practicing mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices will help center you in routines and awareness, and keep your mind from wandering into the dark and sometimes irrational unknown.

Even physicians feel stressed and uneasy about the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe more so than others. After all, we’re supposed to be the ones with the answers to our patients’ questions and have the means to help them. And unfortunately this is a time when we have little of both and it’s frustrating.

One of my collagues read an article about dealing with this stress, and to decrease our stress from having one more piece of information to read he briefly outlined it in an email and added his own thoughts. I liked it so well I asked him if I could feature it here and he graciously consented. And like he did, I have added a few of my thoughts and some references, as well as a link to the original article from CNNhealth.

MANAGE ANXIETY-DON'T BE AFRAID-BE SMART
Limit the frequency of your updates, including social media  

With one of my patients who I was having to talk off of a ledge twice weekly, I suggested allowing herself one news check-in for 30 minutes each morning.  This worked for her.  Choose a frequency and a time that works for you.  But why stop there?  Consider a social media sabbatical .  Truly.  Give it a week and see how you feel. Taking the apps off your phone or tablet helps keep you accountable. 

CDC-Coronavirus Disease 2019

Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction

a podcast by Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Join CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the latest news about the coronavirus. He’ll make sense of the headlines, speak with the experts and give you all the information you need to stay safe and healthy.

diagram of the human brain.
The major parts of the brain, including the pineal gland, cerebellum, spinal cord, brain stem, pituitary gland, and cerebrum are labeled. photo courtesy of Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Alan Hoofring (Illustrator)
Name your fears

Recognize that we all have a negativity bias hard-wired into our brains.  It’s a leftover evolutionary tool that helped keep our caveman and hunter-gatherer ancestors alive. 

In addition to constantly scanning our environment for threats, it also does a good job of overestimating the likelihood that something tragic will befall us, and underestimates our capacity and resources to cope.  We’re not crazy or neurotic, we’re just wired that way.

Conversely, if you minimize or ignore the threat of the pandemic, ask yourself if you should  take it more seriously. If your reactions don’t match those of others in your community, your fear may have driven you to denial.

Practice Social Distancing
Think outside yourself: 

If/when you are feeling overly worried and anxious, and your thinking feels contracted and hopeless, turn your thoughts to how you can help someone else.  This may be a child or other family member, a group of society that is at risk or marginalized at this time, or some of the groups at higher risk due to their occupations, age, or medical conditions. 

Science is unequivocal that when our thoughts turn to serving others, symptoms of worry, anxiety and depression lessen, and we feel better about ourselves.  And this does not have to be anything big, simply shifting to focus off of ourselves and onto someone else helps.

a smiling woman working on a laptop computer
Physicians and counsellors are available virtually, by phone or video visits.
Seek support, but do it wisely: 

Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.  And that goes for us caregivers too.  We are not, and should not think of ourselves, as impervious to the various stressors, the disrupted routines and all of the uncertainty that is prevalent in the world right now. Ask someone you can trust to be objective and rational, and not feed your worries or concerns. 

Pay attention to your basic needs

Don’t get so wrapped up in thinking about the coronavirus that you forget the essential, healthy practices that keep you physically well. 

  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Keeping up with proper nutrition
  • Getting outside as much as possible
  • Engaging in regular physical activity

Practicing mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and spiritual disciplines will  help center you in routines and awareness, and keep your mind from wandering into the dark and sometimes irrational unknown.

a women with hands clasped in prayer with a Bible
a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Don’t chastise yourself for worrying. 

Again, this is part of our normal evolutionary programming.  And to help kids when they are scared, don’t just tell them everything is going to be alright. 

Let them know you hear their concerns and that you understand where they are coming from.  And THEN give them evidence and reasoning for the opposite side of the worry equation.  

Acknowledge their fears, and validate them…  And then do the same for yourself.

This post was adapted from this article on CNNhealth

How to keep coronavirus fears from affecting your mental health

Thanks to my guest writer-Dane Treat, M.D.

Dr. Treat graduated from the University of Oklahoma medical school, although a couple of decades later than I did. He completed residency at Good Samaritan Family Practice in Phoenix, where he lives and practices now. He also completed a Sports Medicine fellowship. He is a student of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. He wisely married a Mayo Clinic trained gastroenterologist, and they are the proud parents of a daughter.

near Phoenix, at Scottsdale Arizona

exploring the HEART of dealing with COVID-19

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

If you are depressed and thinking about or planning suicide, please stop and call this number now-1-800-273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

If you want to help, donate to your local food bank, or make a purchase or donate to The Hunger Site.com . (This is an affiliate link that pays this blog a commission, however 100% of a donation stays with the charity.)

                              Dr. Aletha 

What doctor bloggers are writing about COVID-19

In these times, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the negative things happening around us. But it is crucial to take time to recognize the other side: positive stories of healing and connection, acts of kindness, and, most importantly, reminders of our resilience.

I’ve been reading what some other physician bloggers are writing about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here I share some of them with you. While I believe they are all reliable and honest sources of information, my sharing does not imply endorsement,complete agreement, or advice. This is a topic in which information changes daily if not more often, so all information is subject to change. Always consult the CDC and your state and local health departments for the most recent information that pertains to you.

How to test for COVID-19

Pediatrician Dr Jaime Friedman explains how the different tests for coronavirus-2 infection work.

Anyone who receives an antibody test would need to review the results with their doctor. People with positive results or someone who had symptoms but has a negative antibody test may still need a PCR test to confirm infection. Only time will tell if a positive antibody test infers long lasting immunity.

Testing for COVID-19:What does it mean?

using a syringe to obtain blood specimen from an individual
Photo by Pranidchakan Boonrom on Pexels.com
Understanding Sweden

A Country Doctor, Dr. Hans Duvefelt, grew up in Sweden but has practiced primary care in the United States for 40 years. He shared this and other quotes about Sweden’s response to the pandemic.

Swedish authorities believe that it is enough to make recommendations such as staying inside if you feel ill and avoid large crowds. “Use your brains”…. Classic Swedish freedom and responsibility in other words. May also be called common knowledge, common sense or sense of duty.

A Country Doctor Reads: Why Sweden isn’t Restricting Personal Freedom During the Covid-19 Pandemic – Svenska Dagbladet

water ship sailboat stockholm
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cultivating resilience

I’m seeing the word “resilience” used often since the pandemic started. Psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Welby offers practical suggestions to avoid anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by cultivating resilience.

In these times, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the negative things happening around us. But it is crucial to take time to recognize the other side: positive stories of healing and connection, acts of kindness, and, most importantly, reminders of our resilience.

Resilience During COVID 19: Managing the Stress of Coronavirus and Finding Inspiration in a Time of Crises

MANAGE ANXIETY-DON'T BE AFRAID-BE SMART

If you are depressed and thinking about or planning suicide, please stop and call this number now-1-800-273-8255

exploring the HEART of health in a pandemic

I’ll share some more COVID-19 blogs in another post soon. I hope you check out other posts from these physician bloggers.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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