FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – The Fort Campbell Ready and Resilient Program, 6997 A Shau Valley Road, is staffed with performance experts who provide tips, training and classes to help Soldiers, Families and Department of Army civilian employees strengthen mental toughness and enhance resilience. However, they also have tips on how to combat COVID-19 fatigue and complacency.
“We don’t specifically address the topic of COVID-19, however, we do talk about life stressors and how to mitigate those challenges,” said Courtney Folkes, performance expert-master resilience trainer for the Fort Campbell Ready and Resilient Program. “A lot of our skills we teach can coincide with COVID-19 stressors.”
Folkes recommends people pay attention to what they can and cannot control when dealing with stressors such as COVID-19.
“A lot of time people get bogged down by the things in life they have no control over,” Folkes said. “For example, a school might shut down for two weeks due to COVID-19, well, you can-not control the fact the school shut down. However, you can control the steps you take afterward and develop a plan to deal with it. People can set goals and they can prioritize their energy. A lot of times when we talk about creating checklists, it’s really just prioritizing where we need to direct our energy in a given moment, which can help distract from what you can’t control and focus on what you actually need to get done.”
It is also important to be optimistic, she said, however that doesn’t mean being unrealistic.
“We aren’t suggesting you try to be happy all the time,” Folkes said. “It’s more like looking at this situation and acknowledging it stinks, but it’s not the end of the world and things will get better. Always think of the ‘but’ in the statement, such as ‘the situation isn’t great, but this is what I can do about it.’”
With the holidays approaching, people may be more inclined to gather socially or travel, said Col. Kathryn Ellis, chief of preventive medicine at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and public health emergency officer.
While commercial travel seems to be less of a risk than it was during the early weeks of the pandemic, people should avoid it as much as possible to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, especially during the holidays when large numbers of people are expected to travel at once. Any-one traveling by commercial air should quarantine for two weeks upon returning, Ellis said.
All military and civilian personnel should obtain specific guidance from their supervisor before traveling.
“However you choose to stay connected, it’s important you maintain connections with your loved ones,” Folkes said. “It plays a huge role into resilience, and personally, whether it’s talking on the phone or online, it’s really important to maintain connections during this time.”
The Fort Campbell community should also keep the Army mission in mind while trying to stay resilient and social distanced during COVID-19, Ellis said.
“COVID-19 can be fatal for some, but following up on that, having many service members sick at one time can significantly impair the mission and readiness,” she said. “It can also significantly impair the ability for children to go to school or for schools to stay open, all in all, it can have a significant social impact.”
COVID-19 coping tips
Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of California-Davis offer the following tips on how to make following COVID-19 safety precautions easier.
•Make a commitment to keep yourself and others safe by washing your hands, maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask in public, even if that means a slight inconvenience.
•Practice COVID-19 safety precautions daily until they become habit.
•Keep safety supplies like extra face masks and small bottles of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol easily assessable to encourage use.
•Involve children in keeping families consistent. Children can help remind other Family members to maintain physical distance, wear a mask and keep their hands clean.
•Exercising is one of the best ways to cope with stress and remain resilient. Engaging in an activity like walking encourages the release of endorphins, which can aid in relaxation.
•Communicating your frustrations about the COVID-19 with a Family member or friend can aid in remaining optimistic about things you cannot change.
•Practice constructive thinking knowing you cannot change the current state of the pandemic, but you can change the way you think about it.
For more coping tips for trying times, visit https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/how-to-deal-with-coronavirus-burnout-and-pandemic-fatigue and https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/covid-fatigue-is-hitting-hard-fighting-it-is-hard-too-says-uc-davis-health-psychologist/2020/07.
Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the challenges of COVID-19 fatigue and complacency.