30 Mar Mental Health: Coping With Anxiety and Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
This past month has made history as we face a worldwide pandemic with the coronavirus. All of the unknown factors concerning the state of our country and protecting our health can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety. In this time of chaos and the unknown, good mental health is vital to staying grounded. How do you cope with anxiety and stress during this infectious disease outbreak? We want to give you, as employers, some advice and steps to help your employees during this challenging time. Let’s rally together and make a plan to protect our valued team members in this state of emergency and spread awareness to stay healthy. We need one another now more than ever.
As we all cope with Federal social distancing mandates, learning to connect in other ways is paramount.
Encourage Employees to Take Care of Their Physical Health
One of the best things you can do for your mental health during a crisis like this is to maintain your physical health. This is also a time to step up your physical activity while you have the time. Increasing physical activity can positively affect your brain function. By taking care of your body’s physical needs, it will reduce stress and improve your overall mood. Even though it may be difficult to get motivated at this time, try to take small steps every day to take care of yourself. Your mental health will be greatly impacted. Here are some practical steps to taking care of your body to reduce anxiety and stress. Share these tips with your team:
- Eat well (daily vitamins, vegetables, protein sources, etc.).
- Stay hydrated.
- Get lots of sleep.
- Take deep breaths, meditate, and stretch.
- Avoid alcohol/a lot of caffeine.
- Stay active/exercise/get outside.
Pay Attention to Your Body and Emotions:
- Recognize and heed the early warning signs of stress.
- Recognize how your own past experiences affect your current way of thinking and feeling about this event, and think about how you handled your thoughts, emotions, and behavior during past events.
- Know that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty, or angry is common after an event like an infectious disease outbreak, even when it does not directly threaten you.
- Connect (remotely!) with others who may be experiencing stress about the outbreak. Talk about your feelings about the outbreak, share reliable health information, and enjoy conversation unrelated to the outbreak to remind yourself of the many important and positive things in your lives.
- Take time to renew your spirit through meditation or helping others in need.
Limit Social Media and News Intake
Anxiety and stress levels can increase if you are constantly monitoring social media or the news. Therefore, it is best to limit your consumption of these forms of media during a time like this. While we do think it’s vital to stay in the know of what’s happening, make time for positive messages as well. Positive thinking decreases cortisol and produces serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. Balancing the negative and positive news is key to your mental health right now. Find something that will make you laugh and make space for fun activities. Also, set aside specific time where you can put the phone down, turn the TV off, and just be present.
Social Connection Through Technology
As we all cope with Federal social distancing mandates, learning to connect in other ways is paramount. Quality time with loved ones via technology platforms such as Zoom Video Conferencing or FaceTime is therapeutic and highly recommended. Social connection is an integral component to our nature and necessary for our survival. As an employer, you may also want to encourage team members to stay in contact with one another via these platforms as well for additional support. If you or a member of your team does not have access to this technology or does not have this kind of social support, the EAP is here to help 24/7/365. Call the EAP at 800-832-8902 for confidential support. Care Plus Solutions now offers telehealth support as well. You may inquire about this when you call, or you may request a telehealth intake on our website by choosing “Employee, HR, or Management Inquiry” under “Contact Us”.
Care Plus Solutions is America’s first EAP and is headquartered in New York and has offices in New Jersey. Over the course of the company’s 46 year history, their brand has remained firmly rooted in the rich history of the EAP field, never losing sight of the fundamental purpose of the EAP; delivering personal and quality services to those in need. It is fair to say that Care Plus Solutions is the gold standard in the field of Employee Assistance.
Stress and Coping (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html