Friday, 13 March 2020

March 10, 2020 – Vanderbilt University Medical Center

By James Kendall, LCSW, CEAP, Manager, Work/Life Connections – EAP
As coronavirus (COVID-19) news spreads, it has created stress for many of us. For others, it has added to existing anxieties. Sensationalized stories add to our angst and panic. The stock market has responded with a downturn, and many are unsure whether to travel or attend social gatherings. It may be similar to our response to other stressful world events: HIV, H1N1, SARS, mass shootings and 9/11.
It is healthy to have a respect for the COVID-19, the Flu and other communicable diseases, but we need not panic.  Accurate information, preparation and evidence-based practice are powerful tools. 
Keep Perspective: Find information about COVID-19 from reliable sources: the CDC, NIH, Discovery Health and World Health Organization. Learning what is known about this virus is helpful in combating anxiety, speculation and the media frenzy.
Be Prepared: If you have direct patient contact, arm yourself with the facts and review protocols which are in place that apply to infectious diseases. Engage in training specific to the COVID-19 virus as warranted. Get your annual flu shot. Wash your hands, frequently, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Limit News Overexposure: Limit the time you listen to news about the virus. Sensational news stories can perpetuate unnecessary anxiety. Participate in Healthy Activities: Engage in the lifestyle that encourages resilience and a healthy balance between work and home life:
·         Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise
·         Get enough rest
·         Seek enjoyment (Stop and appreciate the things that are important to you: family; nature; music; etc.)
·         Enjoy moments (a smile; the smell of a flower; a cup of coffee; reading a good book; petting your dog; a movie; time with friends and family; etc.)
·         Avoid too much direct body contact where possible
·         Wash your hands after being and during public excursions (be aware lift buttons, escalator handles, door handles etc. as these accumulate all sorts of bugs
·         Boost your immune system, supplement with vitamins (zinc and Vitamin C)
·         Laugh as this changes the body physiology and is good for you
·         Educate others on basic hygiene
·         Avoid climbing on the gossip wagon

The coronavirus is a reality.  It is in the news and on our minds.  We do not have control over it, but we do have control over how we respond, emotionally.  If you are struggling with feeling stressed about this, psychological support is available.
The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Opt4health does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physician, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Opt4health blog. Reliance on any information provided by Opt4health, Opt4health employees, other contributors appearing on the blog at the invitation of Opt4health, or other visitors to the blog is solely at your own risk.

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