Contributed photo.

Contributed photo.

How to handle pandemic stress

  • Mon Mar 23rd, 2020 12:09pm
  • News

Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health

Disease outbreaks bring feelings of helplessness and worry. Social distancing is absolutely necessary right now to protect ourselves and the people we love. And it comes with a cost. It is massively disruptive to our lives and it takes away many of the usual outlets we have for blowing off steam — gyms are closed, bars and restaurants are closed, social media is an incessant reminder of the pandemic. If you have a chronic disease or deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, you may be especially stressed right now. And, remember, those helping with the response efforts — nurses, doctors, first responders — are doing so while also worrying about their own health and their families.

So what can we do to cope during this public health emergency?

Connect! It’s our relationships that will see us through this. Find a way to invest in those important relationships from at least six feet away. Skype, Facetime, Zoom or just talk on the phone. Video chatting is fun! You feel like a techno-wiz and you can see your friend and their pets and kids and make each other smile!

Take care of yourself. The old fashioned way — with nourishing foods, lots of sleep, deep breaths, and exercise. Exercise is especially good for your mental health. Unplug from social media. You know, after you’re done reading this.

Focus on anything else. Clean, cook, garden, sing, play games, create, read, write. Do whatever it takes to allow your mind to focus on the parts of your life that bring you energy and joy!

Know when to call for help. If you continue to feel overwhelmed and struggle to get through the day, call your health care provider, therapist or mental health provider and set up a telemedicine appointment.

Would a little bit of good news help? China’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 25 percent in the last month. The skies in Wuhan are blue. The lack of boat traffic on the canals in Venice has improved the air quality and allowed the sediment in the water to settle. The water in the canals is clear and you can see fish. The carbon monoxide emissions in New York City are down 50% compared to last year this time. Let’s pay attention to what the world looks like when we prioritize the health of our communities, and, when all this is over, let’s come back to the world gently.

Daily update on COVID-19

Our Department of Health COVID-19 webpage is updated daily with the number of people confirmed to have positive cases and the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in Washington State. As of this writing, 1,996 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 95 have died of the disease. We are very likely to see more people with COVID-19 identified in the coming days.

Get and spread reliable information on COVID-19

This blog update is current as of the day it is posted, but information changes rapidly. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

Fight stigma, public panic, and misinformation by getting your information from trusted sources. Listen to guidance from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

Contact us

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state, start by visiting our website. Contact our call center from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 1–800–525–0127.