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Ideas for coping with the trauma of COVID-19

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As we learn more about COVID-19, we are discovering that self-care over the long term is an important aspect of life during a pandemic. Our concerns about this coronavirus can be exhausting. One way to keep going forward is to simply acknowledge that this is a traumatic time. Stephanie Prunoske, a behavior intervention specialist here at Heritage Christian, recently wrote a message to our staff about ways to respond to this trauma. I thought you might benefit from her suggestions, too.

– Marisa Geitner

Ideas for Coping with the Trauma of COVID-19

By Stephanie Prunoske, LMHC, MSED, Behavior Intervention Specialist

We are currently living in ways many of us never imagined. During the pandemic, we have all felt lasting emotions including anger, fear, loneliness, frustration, stress, helplessness and uncertainty, just to name a few. Our lives have been affected significantly, and no one’s experience is the same.

This is trauma.

There are many unanswered questions …

  • How long will this pandemic go on? When will life return to normal? Will I or a loved one get sick? When will I work again? Where is my next meal coming from? Can I pay my bills?

Coping day to day can be done through …

Awareness

  • Stick to a routine — get dressed, have productive tasks to do, go outside daily and move.
  • Limit social media and COVID-19 conversation. Find trusted sources when you do need information.
  • Notice the good in the world, the helpers, the positives that are happening.

Connection

  • Safety and attachment — safe hugs with your household, play, safe activities you enjoy, reaching out to family and friends who are a comfort to you.
  • Reach out for help when you need more support — You may have access to a corporate Employee Assistance Program, counselors or doctors.

Self Kindness & Acceptance

  • Lower expectations for yourself. We are doing many ordinary things under stress and fear. This is not a formula for success. Take it moment by moment, day by day, if you need to.
  • Give everyone the benefit of the doubt — we don’t know everyone’s struggles. Most are doing the best they can.
  • Find something you can control and control your corner of the world.
  • Find lightness and humor each day — a joke, a movie, a conversation, a smile.

As our stores, businesses, restaurants and communities start to re-open, it’s hard to resist the feeling of wanting to get back to “normal” as soon as possible. However, we still need to be vigilant. We still need to continue to practice good hand washing, maintain social distancing of six feet from others, wear a mask when we can’t maintain six feet from others or are in public, and try to avoid crowded areas.

To learn more about trauma related to COVID-19: https://blogs.webmd.com/mental-health/20200407/the-covid19-crisis-may-trigger-emotions-from-past-trauma.

Don’t forget the Heritage Christian Services website that has up-to-date information, as well as links to resources: www.heritagechristianservices.org/info.