Covid -19 or Corona virus infection is a novel disease caused by the SARs-CoV -2 virus. It is an outbreak of infectious disease which is currently unfolding and whose characteristic are evolving. It has spread across the world and has been labeled a public health concern. Because it is a new and unfamiliar disease associated with a lot of uncertainty.
Many people are experiencing emotional distress and anxiety. Many people have never dealt with a pandemic in their lifetime. The pandemic would impact on people's mental and physical wellbeing because of associated fear of catching the virus and the varied consequences, worry about finances and job security, disruption in routine such as having to work at home, having to combine this with child care. Many people would have to learn new coping skills as strategies that they have used to deal with stressful situations in the past may become inadequate to deal with the challenges and needs during this pandemic. As a lot of people would be dealing with stress at this point in time, it is important that each of us learn to take proper care of ourselves. If we leave our needs unattended to, it would compromise our ability to help so many others around us. Here are a few practical tips that we can use to help us.
We must ensure we take necessary steps to protect ourselves and loved ones. We need to stay updated with reliable and trusted information while avoiding over exposure to anxiety generating information. We need to limit watching, reading or reading about the virus by setting aside a certain period for getting information from sources like the Nigerian center for disease control (NCDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) websites. Avoid upsetting information and try not to engage in forwarding or spreading information that may be false or upsetting to others.
Acknowledge your emotions. You cannot cope or deal with an emotion or problem that you are unwilling to accept exists. Know that it is normal to feel the emotions you have now. You are not alone. Many people are also dealing with varied emotions ranging from sadness, confusion, worry, panic or anger.
Be mindful of your emotion, talk to trusted people who may be of help like relatives and friends or professionals. Try to stay in the present. Do not anticipate future problems or dwell on past ones.
Talk to those who provide reliable information and help. Talk about your fears and worry but don't spend too much time dwelling on this. Try to enjoy healthy and other non-Covid related conversations.
You can stay connected while still maintaining physical distance by use of video messages, text messages or phone calls. Try to call loved ones not within your physical reach regularly especially during the lockdown.
To beat boredom and to judiciously use your spare time, you pan learn new skills and develop new hobbies. Activities you can engage in include reading stimulating books, learning to palmist all instruments, cooking, painting or gardening. You can create new routines with family members. Some of these activities may be done with family members especially children.
Try maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, engaging in physical exercise and practicing good sleep hygiene. Develop adequate selfcare.
Avoid using poor coping strategies which may cause more problems for you such as taking substances that maybe harmful. Avoid taking alcoholic beverages, caffeine containing drinks, tobacco or non-prescribed drugs such as sleeping tablets.
You can engage in mindful practices like yoga, meditation or breathing exercises which helps one to focus on the present.
Do not blindly follow recommendations that you come across without fact checking against trusted sources. Some of recommendations are unhelpful, may lead to more harm. Some people blindly followed recommendations that were harmful in the past. Examples include the ingestion of salt during the last Ebola crisis that resulted in deaths of many people. Recently people were observed to be having problems associated with ingestion of high doses of chloroquine which they used as prevention or cure for Covid infection.
Other things that can be done to help ourselves or others in distress including finding opportunities to amplify stories which are positive and bring messages of hope to people. You can encourage sharing stories about experiences of people who have recovered from the illness so others know that it's possible to fully recover and get back on their feet. Avoid using stigmatizing labels or derogatory terms to describe those who have been infected or their relations. Covid infection is not specific to certain races or age range. It can affect any one exposed to the virus, however the good news is more people have recovered from the infection than the number of deaths recorded. If you suspect that you may be infected, call the NCDC and state specific Covid response team numbers that have been circulated widely.
People with underlying physical and mental health problems are more susceptible to having difficulty coping during this outbreak. It is important not to miss your routine medications if you have been place on any such as anti hypertensive or anti diabetic drugs. If you have been diagnosed with a psychological or mental illness in the past try to comply with the management plan given by your care provider. To ensure that you are using drugs appropriately, find a means to link up with your caregivers or healthcare professionals.
It is important that we avoid stigmatizing people who have been infected with the virus. We should avoid using terms that may be derogatory or to use words which may negatively affect people infected or their relations.