Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital official offers suggestions for what you can do at home
COVID-19 is in the news every second.
That’s enough to make people worry about their health, their jobs, their businesses as the novel coronavirus affects both the sense of well-being and the economy.
It’s a very difficult time, but there are ways to cope with the stress, according to Darcy Keep of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
To start with, take a break from the news cycle, Ms. Keep, the administrative director for psychiatry and addiction medicine, told the News-Press.
“I think it’s important that people are aware of information overload and really limit the amount of time they’re listening to COVID news and getting COVID updates, particularly if they’re already anxious about it,” Ms. Keep said. “It doesn’t serve any good purpose to sit 24/7 in front of CNN or go online and keep looking at the news.”
Ms. Keep suggested limits to how often you watch TV or how many articles you read.
She also recommended going to reliable, evidence-based sources of information, which can actually ease anxiety. She cited the very low fatality rates for those infected with novel coronavirus.
Another positive point is the technology that allows Californians to remain connected while they stay at home under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order.
“I think staying connected is really important,” Ms. Keep said. She cited the value of phone calls, Skype, FaceTime and social media in keeping people connected.
“For instance, I normally have a group of eight people who go out on Friday nights,” Ms. Keep said. “We stopped doing that obviously.
“So on Saturday mornings, we started doing a virtual brunch,” she said. “We all have a Zoom (social media) account,” Ms. Keep said. “We’re eating breakfast in our kitchens, talking to each other on the computer.
“You don’t have to feel isolated,” she said.
Ms. Keep noted people can find various ways to overcome boredom as they live 24/7 in their homes.
For entertainment, people can turn to books, podcasts, streaming services and TV with a hundred-plus channels, she said.
Ms. Keep said now could be a good time to watch something funny like classic “I Love Lucy” episodes or to enjoy uplifting stories on The Moth podcasts. (You also can listen to The Moth Radio Hour.)
She also noted people can write in journals or undertake other projects and interests. “Maybe you want to do some woodworking, but you haven’t had time to do that.
“How can I use this as an opportunity to enrich my life vs. a way that’s going to make this a horrible time in my life?” she said.
Ms. Keep suggested getting the family together and going through a box of old photos. She noted that’s something all ages can enjoy.
She also recommended sticking with your usual routine.
“It’s really important to take care of your body,” she said.
Ms. Keep stressed the importance of getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, maintaining personal hygiene and exercising.
“Just because you’re sequestered at home doesn’t mean you should be in your pajamas eating Cheetos in bed all day,” she said. “You need to be out doing things that are healthy for you.
“You can do yoga in a very small space. You can do cardio workouts in a pretty small space,” Ms. Keep said.
“People are still getting out to walk. You can do that and keep social distancing,” she said.
“If the kids feel cooped up at home, take them on a nature walk and say, ‘We are going to go out and find 15 leaves,’ ” Ms. Keep said.
She discussed how to talk about COVID-19 with your children.
“It depends on the age of the child,” she said. “What’s important is reassurance. Reassure children that they are safe.”
Ms. Keep said children 4 to 7 can be told basic details such as COVID-19 is a virus and that it’s important to wash their hands. For older children, she said it’s important to stress the very low fatality rates.
And she noted that mindfulness practices such as meditation can help people deal with the pandemic.