In 1967, Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe published their now widely-cited “Social Readjustment Rating Scale” wherein they designed a ranking of life’s most stressful experiences. Right at the top sit the death of a loved one, grave personal illness, and loss of income. In the current COVID-19 pandemic many people are suffering all three at once.
The global spread of the novel coronavirus is not just a medical tragedy. Even once the curve has been flattened and ICU units brought back to normal, psychiatrists warn that the mental health burden will remain. Below is a list of actions you can take now, while stuck at home, to ease the toll of the pandemic on your body and mind.
Increase Your Safety and Security:
- Hygiene: The best way to protect yourself and those around you from illness is to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough with a tissue or your elbow, and stay at home except to attend to basic needs—unless you’re sick, in which case you should not leave for any reason.
- Planning: Design a plan of action should you or someone in your home fall ill. This means having emergency numbers on hand, a three-month supply of any needed prescriptions, and a network of loved ones who will to assist you with grocery shopping and other basics.
- Community: Arrange regular conversations with friends, family, and other members of your community. Consider planning an event such as Pictionary played over Zoom using a word generator such as skribbl.io.
- Routine: Just as important as staying connected to community is staying connected to yourself. Do this by reflecting on essential parts of your normal routine and finding ways to implement them into your quarantine life. If daily exercise is essential to your well-being, ensure that you don’t lose that habit now, when it is most needed.
- Understanding: Recognizing that your feelings are normal can help in managing them. If you are experiencing anxiety and struggle to identify its sources, consider developing a mindfulness meditation practice. As you become more aware of your triggers, adjust your behavior to avoid or disarm them.
- Preparation: Rely only on information from trusted sources and catalogue your circumstances in terms of things you can and cannot control. Act on those things you can alter, such as putting together an emergency supply kit, and accept those things you cannot.
Remember, right now your only responsibility is to care for your health and avoid getting sick. For those who struggle with mental well-being, this means taking extra pains to adhere to your treatment plan. As we pass through the eye of the storm and restrictions begin to ease, you can then think about navigating the aftershocks of this event.
For those at risk of self-harm, it is important to know that pandemics have been shown to provoke a rise in suicides. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, speak with a physician or mental health specialist about preventative actions you might take to safeguard your well-being. If your concern is urgent, contact a helpline immediately.
For those who have struggled to find relief from depression in the past, ketamine infusion clinics have proven to be one promising avenue that offers almost immediate relief. If you are interested in learning more about the potential life-saving benefits of this treatment, don’t hesitate to contact our office—we’d love to speak with you (from a safe distance, of course)!