Tag: coronavirus

Coping with Hospital Stays During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the country begins the process of re-opening and lifting some restrictions, we find many activities are resuming. These include medical procedures that may have been postponed, as hospitals and medical facilities everywhere braced and prepared for treating individuals with COVID-19 back in March. If you are one of many patients who are being scheduled for procedures and treatments that require hospitalization, you and your family members are probably being confronted with the likelihood that no one will be allowed to enter the hospital with you, or stay with you during recovery. Medical care facilities around the country are implementing strict policies that ban visitors to try and limit the spread and risk of COVID-19 within their facilities, and there is no sign that these restrictions will be lifted in the near future.

 

Getting medical treatments that require hospital stays are generally anxiety producing for patients and their loved ones. If we add to this that they will likely need to go through this without a support person by their side, and the added concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is to be expected that patients and their loved ones will experience and increase in worry and anxiety.

Here are some tips that may help decrease some of those worries and anxiety:

 

  • You and your family can inquire as to what precautions are in place to protect patients from COVID, if this is something that you are feeling concerned about. Going into the situation as informed as possible will help you and your loved ones feel more in control and less anxious, setting you up for a better experience.
  • Ensure your family knows who and where to call for information if they are unable to reach you, to help decrease their concern and worry. If they feel more at ease, there is less opportunity that you will be impacted by their anxiety too.
  • Set up reliable communication. Make sure you have a phone, a charger, headphones (if allowed) and that you know how to use them all. If possible, make use of video calls to communicate with your loved ones- you may find they bring more emotional connection and comfort than voice calls or text messages alone.
  • Pack some activities that your doctor pre-approves, and you enjoy, to keep yourself entertained during your stay. Crossword puzzles, art, reading material, or a smart device with downloaded (in case streaming is not possible) shows, movies or games, are some examples. The more entertained you are, the less time you will have to focus on worries or being alone.
  • Be prepared to implement some relaxation techniques during your stay, to use when you feel the need. Some examples are listening to your favorite music, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques and visualization.
  • If permitted, pack some of your favorite, doctor-approved, non-perishable snacks to enjoy as you recover.
  • Remember that some anxiety around medical procedures and hospital stays is completely normal. Tell yourself this to prevent being critical of yourself or putting yourself down for having these emotions. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself, being kind to yourself and implementing positive coping tools to help you manage these feelings.
  • Sleep! Rest is an important part of recovery. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, practice some of the relaxation techniques mentioned above. If allowed, come prepared with essential oils that may help you wind down, or request a permitted caffeine free tea to enjoy.

Before implementing any of the above suggestions, be sure to discuss these with your doctor, to ensure everything you want to implement is allowed by the medical facility and approved by your physician. During times of high stress or anxiety, you can help manage how you are feeling by focusing on what you are able to control, such as seeking helpful and necessary information, and implementing tools that help you feel more calm. Keep in mind that the treatment you are receiving is meant to help your body and improve your health outlook, and you will soon be reunited with your loved ones. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass”.

Written by Taina Aceves, LMFT. Ms. Aceves is currently accepting therapy patients via telehealth at Pacific Neurobehavioral Clinic, PC.

 

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Tips on Managing COVID-19 Anxiety

The world is collectively living through an event unlike any other experienced during our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we are living our lives. We are living in daily uncertainty, facing something largely unknown to us still, in constant concern over our health and the health of our loved ones, and for some, grief as well as added stress and pressure over finances and meeting our basic needs. All of this while being stuck at home (in some states and countries) and having limited or no access to our support systems (friends, family and other loved ones) and the places and activities we enjoy; it is the perfect recipe for increased mental health symptoms and needs.   

Thankfully, many people can continue to access mental health services via telehealth* (see below for more information). In addition to mental health services, self-Care is something you can do at home to help relieve anxiety, stress and other mental health symptoms you may be experiencing as a result of the pandemic and social distancing regulations.   

Self-care can be defined as things we do that we enjoy and help us relax. These are unique to each individual, but here are some examples of self-care:   

  • Having a video call with your friends and family 
  • Watching a movie or show that brings you positive emotions 
  • Engaging in a creative outlet of your choice 
  • Taking a relaxing bath 
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Reading enjoyable books 
  • Having a virtual book-club 
  • Meditating 
  • Cooking 
  • Getting restful sleep 
  • Playing games 
  • Practicing yoga 
  • Exercising 
  • Getting outdoors, safely, while practicing social distancing and following your local regulations 
  • Skincare 
  • Listening to music 
  • Playing instruments 

It is easy to forget about practicing self-care, so it is important to schedule it into our days. A minimum of one self-care activity a day is recommendable, particularly during high stress or high anxiety times, such as the one we are currently living through.  

First, you can create a growing list of things or activities that are enjoyable and relaxing for you. Then, create a weekly schedule of self-care based on those activities, or, alternatively, pick one activity from that list every morning, to engage in on that day. Writing down or sharing your plan with someone can help you commit and follow through. Having a self-care buddy, even a virtual one, with whom to practice self-care, can also help you follow through and hold yourself accountable, in addition to potentially making the activity more enjoyable. You can face-mask with your friend via FaceTime, do online gaming with a loved one or work out with a buddy, for example. Get creative and make it fun! Practice self-care consistently, on a daily basis, and notice what difference this makes for your mental health. Taking care of ourselves is always important, and even more so when going through difficult times. Make the time to do this, as much as possible, to reap the benefits.    

*You can reach out to your health insurance, medical care provider or mental health care provider, to inquire about telehealth services. You can also search for mental health providers that offer telehealth via Psychology Today or Therapy Den. We are currently accepting new telehealth patients at PNBC.  

 

Additionally, here are some mental health resources available free of cost: 

Disaster Distress Helpline 1 (800) 985-5990 (también disponible en Español) 

Access & Crisis Line 1 (888) 724-7240 (también disponible en Español) 

2-1-1 San Diego Dial 2-1-1 from any phone (también disponible en Español) 

San Diego County Behavioral Health Resources 

 

Additional stress coping tips can be found on the CDC website.

 

Written by Taina Aceves, LMFT.