The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost all aspects of our daily lives. While we might have settled into our new routines, adjusting to this “new normal” can take a toll on our sense of personal well-being. The pandemic has altered our sense of safety, and collectively we are grieving the loss of what normal life was like just a few weeks ago.
The feeling of dread that comes from not knowing what the future holds is called anticipatory grief. Left unaddressed, this feeling of dread can lead to anxiety and stress. Here are some commons signs that may indicate that you or someone you care about is having trouble coping with stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares with upsetting thoughts and images;
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes;
- Worsening of chronic health problems;
- Increased anger; or
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster. Here are some simple things you can do to take care of yourself that can make a big difference in your coping skills during the current pandemic:
- Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy and well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. You can also reach out to your Component EAP for support.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you usually enjoy and practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation.
- Avoid too much exposure to news. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. Stick to a schedule or routine as much as possible and make time for enjoyable activities.
- Seek help when needed. If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, confide in a close friend, family member, your clergyman, or a mental health professional.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has several resources to help. Learn more about taking care of your emotional health and review this fact sheet about coping with stress and finding support in the midst of the pandemic.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Help
Did you know that all the benefits provided by your Component EAP can be accessed without leaving your home? Whether you are looking for counseling, financial advice, or legal guidance, your Component EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services are confidential, free, and do not affect your security clearance. What you discuss with EAP is never reported to your supervisor. Just like monitoring your temperature for the first signs of a fever, monitor your stress and ask for support when you need it. There is no shame in getting help.
Your Employee Assistance Program is available to provide support to you and your family members during these uncertain times. For more information, contact your Component EAP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.