We might be social distancing, but none of us are alone in feeling anxious as the COVID-19 pandemic forces a new normal for how we live. Seeing businesses and schools close and events cancelled have impacted our cultural psyche. Lockdowns have instilled a sense of lost freedoms and reports about the spread of the virus across the globe have ratcheted up feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
In this historically abnormal time – of course it’s normal to be feeling extremely anxious, and indeed it’s human nature. Scientists identify anxiety as an action the human brain takes to monitor our environment for danger. According to one Yale Medicine researcher, “During an outbreak like this we are flooded with frightening messages about the risks to us, to the ones we care about, and to our daily routines. This can push our anxiety system into ‘overdrive,’ making it hard to focus on anything but the disease.”
As you know, Amada Senior Care is taking every precaution necessary to help prevent the spread of the virus as we continue to address the health of our senior clients. In taking action to reduce risks, we recognize that managing mental health during this stressful time is essential to guarding our physical health. But exactly how can we downshift when we feel ourselves entering anxiety overdrive? Keep reading for tips from the experts.
Follow these steps from Yale Medicine to keep anxiety down
LIMIT NEWS INTAKE to what is providing actual new information. Watching the same news over and over keeps anxiety flying high.
BE CAREFUL ENOUGH in taking the recommended precautions and resist trying to innovate new ones. Many of us dealing with anxiety can fall into unhelpful behaviors when we try to ensure 100% safety.
MAINTAIN A DAILY ROUTINE to keep anxiety at bay and try to “feel normal.” Even when you do need to make changes when necessary, an overall routine can be reassuring.
STAY CONNECTED with family, friends, coworkers and colleagues through text messages, phone calls or an app like Google Duo, FaceTime or Skype. Maintaining relationships and social support go a long way to combatting anxiety while social distancing or quarantining.
STAYING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE either outside or indoors will help to de–escalate anxious feelings and work off nervous energy.
TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR SCREEN because too much time on your phone or computer checking social media and websites can lead to less physical activity and thus more anxiety.
Take the advice of military spouses who juggle ambiguity and crisis every day
As an inducted DOD employer-partner, Amada Senior Care participates in the Military Spouse Employment Program. We have learned a thing or two about dealing with uncertainty from military spouses we employ as caregivers and office personnel. These lessons come from the Hidden Heroes campaign sponsored by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation:
EMBRACE THE AMBIGUITY by acknowledging the “not knowing” and hold on to what you do know.
EXTRA VIGILANCE will need to be provided to high-rise people as we mitigate our risk.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF and understand it’s not a crime. Make popcorn and turn on Netflix and turn off your phone.
USE THIS TIME TO RECONNECT with family members. Video-chat, play board games, organize the family photos that are on your laptop or hold a movie night.
ESTABLISH A PATTERN at home that creates familiarity because humans crave routine.
BE PROACTIVE with your health care providers and ask how you can interact with them during this period of social distancing and quarantine.
HELP OTHERS to feel better. Find small ways to reach out, call old friends, join an email “help” list in the neighborhood or pick up items for homebound residents and leave them outside their door.
PREPARE IN SMALL STEPS because feeling prepared lowers stress. Think ahead in two-week increments. Plan for excursions and supplies, and don’t look beyond that. Envision the future in bite-size, digestible chunks.
PRACTICE MINDFULNESS and guided-imagery practices that can be done at home. There are many places online offering meditations, sleep stories, music and more, like the Calm Blog.
Adopt these anxiety-combatting practices developed by Amada Senior Care franchise owners
At least four days each week, we have a Google Hangout call to keep our caregivers engaged and make sure they feel supported. We just want to say “Hi, how are you doing and what can I do to support you?” For office staff, we’ve been meeting in a park (a safe distance from each other) and we’ve had some upfront conversations about where we might have to pull pack. They’ve been tough, but these talks have bonded them together. At night, I’ll even send a goofy group text to everyone. I sent one that said, “I just want to warn you I’m’ going to come back with a totally different hairstyle” and someone will ask if it’s a mullet or another funny style. It’s just a way to have a little fun in this crazy, weird time.
Owner/Vice President of Operations of Amada Northern Colorado (Fort Collins)
I advise everyone to make sure you get enough rest, try to stay informed but be careful about over-consuming media regarding COVID–19, and call us at Amada to ask any questions.
Liz Crews, MHA
Director of Sales and Marketing for Amada Northern Colorado (Fort Collins, Colo.
My main goal is to make sure our caregivers know we are here for them. I have been either personally calling them or texting them to see how they are doing with everything. I’m taking any kind of supplies (hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.) and dropping them off at either their homes or the clients’ homes. I’m going to throw in some extra “goodies” for today’s drop–offs just to let them know we appreciate them and care about them.
Director of Client Care for Amada Northern Nevada (Reno, Nev.)
We send out messages several times a week to all caregivers with reminders about handwashing, cleaning, self–assessments, and other commonsense approaches. We’ve had a few caregivers with anxiety about exposure and we’ve handled that one–on–one, relative to their particular situation. We also enrolled all the caregivers in a three-hour COVID-19 training. Being more informed about the genesis, the signs and symptoms, ways the virus spreads and how to prevent the spread has eased some anxiety.
Owner of Amada West Virginia (Charleston)
I go for walks in the Back Bay and observe the beautiful creation that I get to live in. I like to notice the wildlife, and various flower and plant life. I enjoy doing yard work, planting, gardening, etc. I listen to podcast, or read a book, usually about history or cooking. Any one of these activities help me to “be still” and kind of re–set.
With my caregivers and employees, I am open about my faith and I try my hardest to create a culture of work where there is open dialogue. I do my best amid the “swirling winds” to ask about their lives their kids, etc. I encourage them to eat right, take care of themselves and get rest. We always do our best to have no caregiver work seven days. I always want them to have a day of rest.
Owner of Amada Senior Care Corona (Calif.)
The COVID-19 situation continues to change, but what remains the same is Amada Senior Care’s commitment to our communities. If you’re having difficulty with heightened anxiety or uncertain about what assistance a loved one might require, please know we’re here for you to help. Feel free to call us a at 877-442-6232 or email us at info@AmadaSeniorCare.com. It may feel like life is in a holding pattern, but as a caring community we will get through this together.
“Managing COVID-19 Anxiety to Protect Mental and Physical Health” was written by Michelle Flores, Amada Blog contributor.