Even if life seems straight out of science fiction right now, the famous advice from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may really be the best thing we can all do. Don’t panic! Staying calm and focused is good for us and for those around us while our daily routines are altered.
Dr. W. Graham Carlos, chief of internal medicine at Eskenazi Health, says that instead of panicking, we should prepare to take part in community reduction of the burdens COVID-19 has imposed. He recommends:
- Social distancing. Work from home if you can, and stay there instead of socializing in person.
- Distractions. Catch up on things at home. Work on hobbies or crafts. Exercise. Don’t watch the news constantly; instead, enjoy binge watching favorite shows or reading fiction to relieve stress.
Dr. Carlos is especially concerned about the anxiety children experience because of things they hear from friends or see on the news. Kids of health care workers and first responders are particularly prone to stress-related illness if they are worried about their own health or the health of loved ones who may be exposed to the virus.
Adults know best how to talk with children in their care. This is a teaching opportunity, Dr. Carlos says, where you can correct any misunderstandings and provide reassurance about kids’ own health. You can also help them understand why staying home from school helps to protect everyone in your community. Ask kids what they have heard about the virus and what questions they have. Some kids may be interested in the science and want to learn more about viral transmission and other aspects of this pandemic. Other kids will need help avoiding too much information from news and social media, so that their anxiety does not increase.
If someone in your home already takes anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, Dr. Carlos says this may be a good time to check in with your primary care physician or other medical professional for a review of dosage.