SEMBACH, Germany – As an increasingly larger number of people are home due to telework and other COVID-19 restrictions, how does one focus on their mental health during a worldwide pandemic?
“People are social animals and we’re used to being around others,” said Lt. Col. Emile Wijnans, the director of psychological health for Regional Health Command Europe. “If you’re feeling isolated, do what you can to reach out to people on a regular basis. This is also an opportunity to reach out to folks that you haven’t touched base with in a long time.”
According to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, stressors during a period of social distancing/quarantine can include: frustration and boredom related to the isolation, inadequate supplies and access to regular medical care, insufficient information, and fears about becoming infected and/or infecting others.
“It’s very easy to have a misperception of things,” said Wijnans. “I recommend you limit your exposure to social media and the news. You can alleviate stress by focusing on the things that are positive and what you can control.”
The CSTS also recommends that people take time to take care of themselves.
“It’s important to get what rest you can, eat well and exercise when possible,” said Wijnans. “These are normal things we tell people, but they really do in fact help.”
Wijnans also has recommendations on how to support children during this time.
“Maintain a structured schedule that they would be having at school,” he said. “Make sure to talk to you kids about coronavirus using fact-based, science-based sources. Try to model for them a healthy response to what are uncertain circumstances.”