Stress and Coping during Covid-19

From the CDC

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

Read more here

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

By Scott Berinato for  The Harvard Business Review

Some of the HBR edit staff met virtually the other day — a screen full of faces in a scene becoming more common everywhere. We talked about the content we’re commissioning in this harrowing time of a pandemic and how we can help people. But we also talked about how we were feeling. One colleague mentioned that what she felt was grief. Heads nodded in all the panes.

If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it. We turned to David Kessler for ideas on how to do that. Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of GriefKessler also has worked for a decade in a three-hospital system in Los Angeles. He served on their biohazards team. His volunteer work includes being an LAPD Specialist Reserve for traumatic events as well as having served on the Red Cross’s disaster services team. He is the founder of www.grief.com, which has over 5 million visits yearly from 167 countries.

Kessler shared his thoughts on why it’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how he believes we will find meaning in it. The conversation is lightly edited for clarity.

HBR: People are feeling any number of things right now. Is it right to call some of what they’re feeling grief?

Kessler: Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

You said we’re feeling more than one kind of grief?

Yes, we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

Read more here….

It’s OK to Feel Sorry for Yourself

From David B Bohl

It should be good news that we find helping others easier than asking for help… but unfortunately it isn’t. At least not in the case of someone with trauma or addiction who’s got a fragile self-esteem and distorted sense of self-worth. Quitting drugs or alcohol is a first major step to recovery, which can be a long and arduous journey. Because recovery is a complicated process, it is essential that we equip ourselves properly for it. It’s possible to run on the fuel of motivation, ambition, and sheer self will, but without self-compassion we might never settle comfortably into our sober life.

At the same time, I know very well how hard it might be to feel kindness toward ourselves after years of destructive behavior.

Addiction is an isolating condition, but it is never so isolating as to not affect those who love us as well. In active addiction we’re surrounded by people with broken hearts, broken trust, and lots of anxiety: all the by-products of our unhealthy ways. We have children who no longer want to spend time with us, significant others who want to leave us, parents who can’t bear to speak to us. Of course, we feel guilt and shame and we can’t imagine ever living in the space where we would be forgiven and accepted back. This is why we tend to get involved in situations that serve others well but that aren’t necessary good for us. In AA this might mean taking service commitments to the next level, taking on new members as sponsees, giving rides, food, shelter, advice and our time to everyone who asks. It’s a sure recipe to run yourself dry and find yourself in the place of resentment and mental exhaustion.

I’m a big advocate of self-care, and I’m also a big advocate of self-compassion. You deserve kindness just like anyone else. What you’ve done during your active addiction is in the past now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Recovery is the time to recognize what happened to us and why, and it is the time to do something about it all so that the negative emotions no longer control our lives. Doing something about it means treating yourself with respect and gentleness.

If you have a hard time finding a space for yourself where self-compassion is possible, I suggest imagining yourself as a child. This is an exercise that might allow you to see yourself from a different, less critical angle. That child is still a part of you and you need to honor it and take care of it.

Read more here…

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others.

I have been learning a lot about CBT – DBT is an interesting take on it as well.

Can You Die From Loneliness?

From Psychology Today

As a social work graduate student, I worked in a medical hospital. One of my projects included studying the “revolving door” patients — those individuals who came into the emergency room on a regular basis.

Some of these patients came into the hospital for chronic issues, such as back pain and breathing difficulties. I identified the patients who lived alone. With their permission, I began calling them on a regular basis to check on them.

Sometimes they wanted to talk about their health. At other times, they wanted to share stories about the past. I allowed them to talk about whatever they wanted and just listened.

Then, we tracked their emergency room visits. Once the calls began, their hospital visits were greatly reduced.  

I think there were two reasons those phone calls reduced their visits to the hospital: they felt less lonely, which helped them feel better physically, and feeling connected with someone meant they were less likely to go to the emergency room simply to have human contact.

That was just a graduate school project with a small sample, and not exactly a peer-reviewed study. But it did give the hospital some interesting feedback about how they might be able to support some of their frequent emergency room visitors.

Read more here…

How to Recognize the Signs of Burnout Before You’re Burned Out

From Lifehacker

Once you recognize you’re burned out, you can pull yourself back from the ledge, but it’d be best to never get there in the first place. Luckily, the signs are usually right in front of you: you just don’t want to see them, or you’re too busy actually working to recognize them. If you keep an eye out, you’ll be able to cut off burnout before it takes hold so hard you can barely get up for work.

The Early, Subtle Signs of Burnout

Most people only think about beating burnout after it’s gotten really bad. We’ve explained how to bounce back, how to get motivated again, how to re-engage with your work, and they’re all great…after you’re already feeling overwhelmed. In reality, the best things you can do to beat burnout start before you hit rock bottom. Here are the early warning signs to watch for:

  • Disaffection and snark about your work, workplace, or colleagues. If you catch yourself reacting poorly to things you would normally take in stride, or suddenly showing a ton of snark or contempt for even minor announcements around the office, you’re suffering from the first, earliest signs of burnout. Don’t get us wrong—a little snark about work is normal. When the boss starts talking about “synergizing core competencies,” it’s normal to roll your eyes. But if you’re rolling your eyes more than you think about what’s being said, it’s time to step back.

Read more…

Rumination: How Obsessive Thinking Impacts Depression and Anxiety

“It emotionally hijacks us and intensifies our negative feelings.”

By 

Some people know rumination — the repetition of the same thought in your head over and over — as obsessive thinking, and for those who experience it, ruminating can be a frustrating state.

Thinking over and over about a missed opportunity, an ex, or when you misspoke — it’s bad enough to live through a negative experience once without beating yourself up in an unvirtuous mental loop. While it can often be beneficial to allow yourself the time and space to think about things that are important, too much of a good thing might actually be a bad thing. And when it comes to dealing with issues like depression or anxiety, allowing too much time to ruminate could keep you stuck in a mental rut.

“Rumination is associated with depression,” writes clinical psychologist Dr. Suma Chand for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Research shows that people who ruminate are more likely to develop depression compared to those who don’t.” Maybe up to four times more likely, she says.

This goes the other way as well: A Canadian study conducted among college students found that those who experienced higher levels of anxiety or depression already tended to engage in more ruminative behaviors. Another study in China found similar results among the elderly population. Rumination, it turns out, becomes a vicious double-edged sword.

What Does Rumination Look Like?

Everyone at one time or another may feel like they’re “obsessing” over some idea or thought. The difference between a healthy amount of thinking about a topic, versus harmful rumination, is the end result. For example, if you find yourself thinking about a particular problem in order to come up with the best solution, you’re probably not ruminating. But if the thing on your mind has no solution, or may not be in your control, then you might want to ask yourself if you’re ruminating.

Depending on whether you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, rumination can take varying forms. One of my clients describes her anxious worrying as “catastrophic thoughts.” She often begins with a fairly benign thought, such as “This traffic is going to make me late to work.” This becomes “I’m a horrible employee who can’t even show up on time,” which turns into “I’m definitely going to get fired from my job.” For the rest of the week she’s sweating over a small, common mistake that wasn’t her fault.

“One of the things I find hard to articulate to people is that if I keep bringing something up or making jokes about it, that’s an indication I’m ruminating about it,” writes Alexis Schuster for The Mighty. I’m guilty of the same “tell” in my own ruminations. I find all sorts of creative ways to discuss the thing I can’t stop thinking about, from joking about it to asking rhetorical questions to asking others if they’ve ever had similar thoughts. Then I start obsessing over whether I’m annoying everyone with my ruminations.

It can feel lonely to be stuck in your head with your thoughts; sometimes letting them out is the only way to feel like you’re releasing the tension that’s building, to feel like you’re not the only one bearing the heavy load. However, once you let out some of the steam, it’s likely going to build up again. That’s when it’s time for a better solution.

Read more here…

Honesty about anxiety from a Canadian broadcasting icon

Icon? Yup – I would have called John Moore an icon even 10 years ago. But listening to his talk and his coming back to radio? I’m a 54 year old man and I am in tears of happiness right now.

Thank you for having this courage to share. And to offer hope to so many others.

You’re a class act. Always knew that. But … this upped it a few more levels yet again.

Rossy art therapy and well-being

The Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy makes it possible for the MMFA to consolidate its developmental focus on art therapy and well-being. All actions put in place are aimed at the same goal, namely to promote the well-being of a variety of groups, whether or not they have special needs.

In this connection, some new programming, designed in partnership with the health and academic communities, is offering a whole range of innovative projects adapted to persons living either with mental health issues, autism or eating disorders, or with difficulties related to learning, living together and social inclusion. Whether they visit exhibitions in the company of an educator, participate in creative workshops or present their creations to Museum audiences, program participants have meaningful artistic and social experiences.

Numerous professionals from the medical world and the community can join forces in an unusual practice setting, thanks to the Museum’s facilities, which include an art therapy workshop, a medical consultation room and an Art Hive, created in collaboration with the Department of Creative Arts Therapy at Concordia University.

Art has a positive effect on the physical and mental health and well-being of individuals. To back this up, researchers from various institutions in Quebec are studying the beneficial effects of a visit to the Museum, which may be comparable to the benefits of physical exercise.

Furthermore, the MMFA Art and Health Advisory Committee, composed of experts from the fields of health, art therapy, research and the arts, as well as representatives of philanthropy and the MMFA, offers its expertise and support for the development of potential partnerships and innovative projects implemented at the MMFA.

See more at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts