We are all trying our best to cope with this scary pandemic. So, we thought for this month’s forum we would focus on successful ways of coping with the understandable stress we are experiencing.
We encourage you to read an interview with David Kessler co-author with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross of “On Grief and Grieving”, who believes that some of us are experiencing a kind of collective grief. Click here (or copy and paste the following website into your browser: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief)
I. Reasons for Our Apprehensiveness
- There’s currently no vaccine or preventative treatment for this new virus (but there are protective actions we can take).
- We’re bombarded with constant news, some may be sensational and inaccurate.
- As humans, we may over-react to uncertainty because it makes us feel a perceived “lack of control.” We observe people take on more unusual behaviors such as panic-buying of months’ worth of toilet paper and face masks.
- We’re unaccustomed and may feel resentment about being deprived of our usual way of life (e.g., carefree shopping; stopping to talk with neighbors).
II. Consider These Coping Strategies
- Recall successful coping strategies you’ve used in the past to deal with stressful life events. Remind yourself of your natural resilience.
- Carry out positive, constructive actions to reassert your sense of control and mastery.
a.) Stay informed with accurate information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Don’t overdose with too much repetitive information from the news media (remember constant TV scenes of 9/11?).
b.) Reassert your sense of power/control by protecting yourself and others from this illness by:
e.g., Self-isolating and seeking medical advice should symptoms of the illness develop.
e.g., Washing your hands regularly with soap and water; wearing protective gloves and perhaps a high-quality face mask when shopping; avoiding large crowds (as recommended by the CDC, N.M. Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Secretary of Health, Kathyleen Kunkel.
e.g., Stay as healthy as you can by eating nutritious food, getting adequate sleep and rest and following your doctor’s health-promoting advice. These practices may improve your overall resistance to the virus.
c.) Take advantage of more time at home by reading books (on your nightstand), doing simple exercises, and starting spring clean-up, to mention a few.
d.) Protect your children/grandchildren from overexposure to frightening tv/radio reporting. Depending on their age and level of maturity, answer their questions accurately/reassuringly.
e.) Keep in contact via phone or video conferencing with family/friends for mutual support and socialization.
III. Special Considerations Regarding the Elderly and Those with Mental Health Conditions
- Elderly people, especially those living alone, may be vulnerable to being isolated at home. Family and friends need to check in more regularly to help out (e.g., grocery shopping and keeping medical appointments, and taking medications).
- Those with pre-existing emotional problems may experience an exacerbation of symptoms. Their friends/family need to be more supportive and make certain that appointments with their health professionals are kept and medications are taken properly.
IV. General Consideration
We’re all so eager to resume our usual lifestyle, but let’s diligently follow directions from the CDC and other trustworthy authorities as to when and to what degree our normal life can resume. Some Asian countries resumed too quickly and experienced a resurgence of the epidemic.
V. Lastly and Most Importantly
Let’s not forget that Americans have great resilience. We’ve helped one another through more serious hardships (wars, depression/recessions, previous viral epidemics (e.g., polio). We’ll recover from this current challenge!
Please share with us (Drs. Lazarus and Foster) and those who follow our website, what strategies you’ve found useful for coping with the pandemic. Please post your comments and questions on our website (https://qualityaffordablehealthcare.net). We will respond on our website, and/or if you provide your email address, we will respond personally.
If you have family and friends you think would benefit from these bimonthly forums and “doctors’ take” on breaking healthcare news, please suggest they subscribe to our website. Lastly, our best-selling book, “Insider’s Guide To Quality Affordable Healthcare” was recently selected by Book Authority as “one of the twelve best healthcare books in the world to read in 2020”. You can read the first chapters by visiting our website – click on the cover of the book – scroll halfway down the page to just below a second image of the book cover – click on “free preview”.
Please keep yourself, family and friends safe by following the safety precautions advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) and your state government.
Best Wishes – Drs. Larry Lazarus and Jeff Foster
P.S. This month’s forum was adapted from an Op-Ed piece written for the New Mexican by Dr. Lazarus. It was picked up by the New Jersey Free Press and featured on the front page of their April 2020 edition.