The last year has been uncertain for all of us. The global pandemic has brought financial worries, a decrease in mental health, and many more day-to-day stresses. One aspect of the coronavirus that has been especially difficult to cope with is when someone that we love contracts the illness. With varying degrees of severity, we are put in a position where someone we care for has to be isolated while they may be fighting for their lives. The emotions that arise during this time, understandably, are painful and heavy.
In any case of a loved one being unwell, we harbor feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety. These feelings are exacerbated with a COVID-19 diagnosis, as we immediately lose or limit physical contact with the person we love. If the situation is severe, this person may be in the hospital or even the ICU, while you have to wait at home. Allow yourself to have these feelings, and don’t try to hide from them.
Be kind to yourself – 6 steps for self-care when a loved one has coronavirus
Difficult feelings tend to come in waves. When you experience challenging emotions, it is important to take the appropriate steps to care for yourself. Practicing self-care makes you more prepared to care for your loved one.
Here are six practical actions you can take:
- Discuss your situation with others who are experiencing it as well
- Journal (record your feelings – the value of journaling comes through when we stick with it)
- Set a schedule for getting updates and staying in touch (when you know when the next update is scheduled, you can put your mind more at ease until then)
- Ask caretakers to help you arrange video calls with your loved one
- Practice mindfulness (meditation, yoga)
- Reach out to a qualified therapist who can help you manage your emotions
Remind yourself that although your loved one needs you right now, you need to set time aside for yourself too. You may feel that the last thing you want to do right now is to focus inward, but self-care can benefit your loved one as well. Knowing you’re taking care of yourself, and allowing yourself that time, can bring some comfort to your family member.
Stopping coronavirus uncertainty from spiraling out of control
Anxiety can take over when someone we love gets ill. When we are unsure of the outcome, it’s easy for our minds to race ahead to fill in the gaps. The coronavirus creates feelings of uncertainty on steroids since so much is unknown. Worries about the outcome, and the very real chance of bad results, can lead to a downward spiral of anxiety and trepidation.
Anxiety blocks the parasympathetic nervous system in your body, which turns on your body’s relaxation response. When you have an anxiety disorder, the stress response activates too frequently, too intensely, or for too long a period. This prolonged stress response inhibits your body’s natural relaxation response.
If you have methods that work for you to decrease stress, use them. If it’s too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Triggers – coronavirus in conversation
Hearing others constantly discuss the pandemic, as well as hearing Covid-19 on the news all the time, makes it hard to relax and get control of your anxiety. Here are three practical tips:
- Limit your news intake.
- Only listen to Covid-19 news from a reliable source (not from social media or tabloids).
- Set boundaries about discussing the coronavirus with friends and family. Those who care about you will respect your limits.
Reach out now
If you need help managing your mental health at this difficult time, at Eastside Center for Family we’re here to help. You don’t have to go through this alone. The world can feel even lonelier during this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should be isolated during your pain. Contact us today.