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Reducing fear and fatigue

Tips for how to cope during a crisis.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

blocks spelling "Calm" on one side, "Panic" on the other
Remaining calm during a crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything Americans have ever seen, resulting in an ongoing period of fear, uncertainty and fatigue that can wear anyone down.

Candice Franco, PhD, a psychologist with Baptist Behavioral Health, offers strategies for staying strong and minimizing stress during this time.

For healthcare providers

Healthcare workers who are feeling especially overwhelmed right now should do their best to incorporate extra self-care into their daily routines. Self-care doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive. It could mean:

  • Deep breathing for a few minutes
  • Taking five minutes to clear your head
  • Engaging your senses by drinking a hot cup of tea or a cold glass of water
  • Listening to your favorite song
  • Praying or meditating
  • Getting outside and taking a quick walk

"Remember to integrate self-care with great deal of compassion and creativity," Dr. Franco said. "These little steps are not meant to bring stress levels all the way down, but they can hold your stress levels where they are and get them a little lower each day."

Some healthcare workers who are on the front lines may feel they don't have time even for the quick fixes mentioned above. In that case, they should do their best to eat regularly, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep.

For non-healthcare workers

For those who are working from home, homeschooling their kids, and adapting to a new normal, Dr. Franco also has some tips for them, too.

She said creating a structure and routine for each day, with a general outline of what is to come, is key. Within this structure, there should also be some flexibility so the schedule can be adapted as plans change.

Plan ahead

Partners and spouses may want to have a business meeting of sorts at the start of the day to go through their schedules, communicate about important milestones, and divvy up household responsibilities. That way the noon conference call that you need to be on doesn't turn into a panic-inducing experience when you realize that your partner isn't around to help the kids with their schoolwork at that time.

Get the kids involved

Establishing a routine is especially critical for children, who need to know what to expect and who is in charge. Use this time as an opportunity to work together as a family to solve problems and divide up household tasks. When your kids contribute, praise them for a job well-done.

Limit exposure to the news

"Having the news streaming all day may keep you well-informed, but it may also create more stress for you and your family," Dr. Franco said. Avoid watching the news non-stop, and filter what your kids are seeing on TV so they don't get scared.

Be realistic

Dr. Franco said it is also important to set reasonable goals during this time.

"You are not going to be able to accomplish the same things you were accomplishing before," Franco said. "Your internal battery is going to get drained. It's important to be discerning and learn what you can let go of or push pause on. Shift the expectations of yourself, do the best you can, and trust that that is enough."

Baptist Behavioral Health has opened virtual offices to provide mental health services to you, while practicing social distancing. Schedule an appointment or view helpful mental health resources for our community by visiting their website.

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information, visit baptistjax.com/covid19.

Baptist Health physicians are here for you during this time and can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications virtually. Request an online doctor appointment here.

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