COVID-19 has made a significant impact on the way many individuals work, live, and interact with friends and family. These rapid changes have caused many individuals to feel additional stress and anxiety in already uncertain times.
During the pandemic, it's important to stay safe and one of the best ways to do so is by maintaining proper physical distance. However, social distance does not mean refraining from all social activities. As human beings it's important that we maintain social interactions, which keep us connected to loved ones, friends, and our community and has a positive impact on our mental and physical well-being.
According to Tower Behavioral Health CEO, Stephanie Lee, LCSW, there are a variety of ways to help you stay connected during this time. Many people are using video conferencing to see those they cannot be with physically, or writing handwritten letters or cards. You can further engage with those who live in your home by playing board games, completing puzzles, and planning outdoor activities in your yard. Another strategy that keeps you socially distant, yet present, is to meet in a park, bring separate chairs, towels or blankets, wear a mask, bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and spend time with a friend.
"It's important to take notice of how our everyday lives have been impacted by COVID-19," said Ms. Lee. "Self-care is critical right now, taking care of your body and mind is key. If you find that you have noticed behavioral changes to how you respond or manage your daily activities such as sleep, work, interactions with family and friends, changes to these activities may be early signs of behavioral health distress and you should seek help from a Behavioral Health professional."
Other ways to relieve stress during this time include:
- Keeping a normal routine. Wake at the same time, work during your normal work hours, and honor regular mealtimes.
- Spending quality time with your family.
- Eating healthy snacks and meals when you can. It's challenging to maintain a healthy diet when we are stressed and close to our kitchens. Ensuring you keep healthy snacks and food options will provide you with healthy alternatives.
- Exercising. Even a short walk will release endorphins and help improve your mood. You will also receive the added benefit of being outside, in the sun, which helps in the release of serotonin - another mood booster that helps to keep you focused and calm.
- Taking on a project you've been delaying. Completing tasks is a sure way to feel more organized, decrease stress with the added benefit of cleaning up your to do list. Start small and slowly work your way up to larger projects as time permits.
- Taking a break from the news. That could include avoiding the newspaper or online news apps for a day, or limiting your daily news time to one hour per day. Find what works best for you.
Ms. Lee also says, "As we all begin to navigate reentry it is not uncommon to be nervous or fearful. It's a challenging balance as we learn to make safe choices for ourselves while not becoming paralyzed by the fear that COVID-19 can cause."
She recommends these tips to minimize anxious feelings, stay safe, and help prevent the spread of the virus:
- If you're feeling sick, stay home, and contact your primary care provider for guidance.
- When outside of your home always maintain proper social distance. If you enter a public place and see others are not maintaining a safe distance or wearing masks, it's ok to leave and go somewhere else, or return later.
- If you are returning to work, ensure your employer is taking, or requesting employee temperatures and screening individuals returning to the office.
- Always wear a mask when outside of your home.
- Wash your hands regularly. Keep disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer in your vehicle or purse/backpack. Disinfect gas pumps, grocery carts, and other surfaces prior to touching.
Tower Behavioral Health is accepting new patients and offering in-person and telehealth options for outpatient services. To learn more, call 484-628-8070.
If you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of harming themselves or others, please call 911 or Berks County Mental Health Crisis Intervention and Emergency Services hotline at 877-236-4600 or Text ruOK to 484-816-ruOK (7865) immediately.
Stephanie Lee is available for media interviews.
About Tower Health
Tower Health is a strong, regional, integrated healthcare provider/payer system that offers leading-edge, compassionate healthcare and wellness services to a population of 2.5 million people. With approximately 14,000 team members, Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville; Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia; Jennersville Hospital in West Grove; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, a partnership of Tower Health and Drexel University in Philadelphia. It also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading; home healthcare services provided by Tower Health at Home; and a network of 22 urgent care facilities across the Tower Health service area. Tower Health offers a connected network of 2,200 physicians, specialists, and advanced practice providers across more than 230 convenient locations. For more information, visit towerhealth.org.