Joe Peters, LCFL Director of Counseling and Volunteer Services, provides basic tips to help you cope while staying safe and isolated to protect yourself and loved ones from COVID-19.
Hi there. My name is Joe Peters.
I am the Director of Counseling and Volunteer Services with Lower Cape Fear LifeCare.
I wanted to reach out to you all today to talk about the coronavirus pandemic and talk about some tips that could be helpful to you as we try and navigate this unprecedented experience.
Human beings – we crave certainty. We want to know what is happening. We want to try and control as much as we can on a day-to-day, to minute-to-minute basis. And when things become uncertain, whether it’s even the minute things, we get stressed it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when the face of this illness and the disease is ever-changing, as well as having a lot of conflicting information coming about.
While you’re struggling, I think it’s important to take some steps to help keep yourself centered, to keep yourself grounded; and thought I’d offer what I typically try and do when faced with these times of high stress and big anxiety.
First and foremost, it’s important that we practice good self-care. Maintain good sleep. Make sure that you’re doing hobbies that you like to do on a day-to-day basis. Make sure that you are abstaining as best possible from drinking too much alcohol, avoiding tobacco products and making sure that our nutrition is good.
I know it’s really tempting to want to chow down on or plow through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But, it is important too to balance that out with maintaining good nutrition.
I also find it important to maintain your normal exercise routines as best as possible. Getting out for a walk, even for 30 minutes. The weather is changing, it’s springtime here in the south. It is vital and would be great for you to go out there, even if it’s just to get out and breathe the fresh air. Or in our case here in North Carolina, the pollen-filled air.
Another thing that I can’t stress enough is to limit your screen time. Limit your TV time. With the amount of news that comes out, it’s easy to get overloaded and it’s easy to feel like there’s an information overload coming at you 24/7. Turn off the TV. Put down the phone. Go read a book. If there’s a certain scripture or rituals that keep you grounded, engage in that. Or, go sit outside.
Plan but don’t panic. It’s not necessary to go out and buy ten packages of toilet paper. But, it is important that you plan for if you need to have certain medications on hand. Plan to, if necessary, be inside for a little bit. Plan to have the important groceries that you might need if you had to be inside for a week or two weeks.
Stay social. And, I know that might be hard in the face of being in isolation. But social justice distancing does not mean that we need to necessarily live in isolation. We can maintain contact with our friends and families using Zoom, or Facetime, or video chats, or picking up the phone. We can maintain distance by visiting neighbors from afar. We can check in on our elderly neighbors by calling them and seeing how they are, and if they need anything.
In this time of great stress, be extra gentle with yourself. It’s okay to feel keyed up. It’s okay for things to not be in your control. And, being compassionate with yourself and providing yourself with unconditional positive self-regard is important.
Focus on what you can control versus what you can’t control. We certainly can’t control the amount of stress that goes on in our life. We can’t control what goes on in the world. But we can control how we approach social media. We can control the things that we can do to take measures to limit exposure: washing our hands, maintaining distance.
It’s vital that some of these things that we do – we also have to learn to be in the moment, to stay grounded. It’s also helpful to – I know we often say stay in the moment, stay grounded – but attuning ourselves. You know if it’s breath to breath than we need to do that then we stay in the moment. We stay present.
Over the course of the couple of coming weeks and coming months, you’ll hear from various members of our team to help you stay in the moment through videos like this.
I thank you for your time, and, as the saying goes, we will get through this together and we’re all in this together.
Take care and stay safe.