To: All Cleveland APL Employees
From: Ron Srnka, Senior Director of Human Resources
Re: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Protecting Your Emotional & Mental Health During Quarantine
Outbreaks can be stressful
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations
How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Take care of yourself and your community
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Ways to support your child
- Talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
- Caring for Children During COVID-19
|Children and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC
Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they have COVID-19 …
More Expert Advice…
6 ways to keep our mental health in check during the COVID-19 pandemic
#1: Stay informed, but limit exposure
It is important to stay updated on the rapidly changing information regarding COVID-19, but it is also equally important to consume our news in moderation. Information should be obtained from reliable sources, such as the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), or the state health department, to ensure the information is accurate. The Ohio state health department offers the ability to sign up for emails regarding new information and guidelines.
Limit exposure in general – immersing yourself in news for too many hours of your day can unnecessarily increase anxieties and promote panic and fear. Stick to a schedule that seems manageable – pick a specific time or times during the day to read or view the news. And try to reserve the last two hours before going to sleep as time without news exposure. We need time for our brains to wind down and rest!
#2: Stick to a schedule and a daily routine
As much as you can, continue to keep up your normal behaviors, routines and practices. If you work out daily, find ways to maintain your practice. If you drink coffee every morning, drink up. Daily routines can help us feel a sense of normalcy, comfort and control, however small, over our day to day. Additionally, as we all adjust to our current circumstances, whether this be working from home or supporting at-home schoolwork for our children, attempt to create new routines and stick to a schedule.
#3: Take extra care of yourself
Know that feelings of anxiety, fear and worry are to be expected. Complaints like insomnia, changes in appetite, feeling uncomfortable or irritable are all considered normal reactions to the current state of the world. This is the time to be extra nice to yourself and those around you. Here are some specific things you can focus on; they may seem simple and basic, but are important to your health and sense of equilibrium.
#4 Communicate and check in with others
While we are asked to socially isolate or even shelter in place, we do not need to be completely shut off from our support systems. It is important to check in with loved ones, share your feelings and connect with others. There are so many ways to do this that don’t involve physical contact. Call your aunt who lives alone. Text your daughter. Email your father. FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp with your neighbors and friends. Share a good cry or a laugh or even a mundane story from your day. Connectedness will help combat feelings of isolation.
For teams and colleagues, try pairing up with a work “buddy” to check in with twice a week via instant message or phone. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but even a quick check-in can help – especially if you are both new to working from home. Continue to feed and grow your emotional supports
#5 Take action where you can
Wash your hands regularly. Disinfect surfaces. Limit your social interactions. Take responsibility for reducing exposure and impacting the virus in a way you can control. Find a way to give back to others who are less fortunate than you are. These actions can be empowering and also can bind us to a larger sense of community and social awareness.
#6 Work on your resilience
There is no time like the present to make a conscious choice to build your resilience. Resiliency is defined as the ability to bounce back in the face of stressful or difficult situations. Focus on changing your thought processes, on positivity, on strengths and things you can impact, control and influence. Work on being hopeful and optimistic about the future. Avoid seeing situations as unsolvable or unmanageable and accept that change (good or bad) is a part of life. Believe that we can and will get through this time and emerge stronger and wiser than we were before. It takes practice, but resiliency will help us get through tough times now and in the future.
Source: Mark Debus and Rebecca Sherman
TOGETHER, WE ARE COMPASSION IN ACTION!
Ron Srnka, Senior Director of Human Resources
Mobile phone: 330.304.8379