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Staying Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit During a Crisis

March 21, 2020

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are feeling increasingly anxious about what lies ahead for themselves and those they care about. Peter Lucchio, staff psychologist at Hartford HealthCare’s Bone & Joint Institute, offers some tips on how to make sure you are staying healthy in mind, body and spirit.

  • Control/limit/cap exposure to news on COVID-19.
    • Research on the effect of news viewership on mood has indicated that viewing TV bulletins with a negative emotional valence can contribute to increased anxiety.
    • In an effort to help people cope with the potential effects of prolonged exposure to stressful or anxiety-provoking news in the media, people can consider limiting their TV/news exposure to a certain amount of time per day.  This tactic might allow people to stay informed on updates on how to stay safe, while also building emotional boundaries around the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Try to find a middle ground.
    • While panic around the spread of COVID-19 is likely not helpful, a lackadaisical or apathetic approach is also likely not helpful for individual or greater good.
    • Mindfulness is a skill, practice or philosophy that may be helpful in times of uncertainty. Mindfulness is briefly defined as being in the present moment, without judgment, intentionally. There are tenets associated with mindfulness, such as acceptance, which can help us find a middle ground. Acceptance can be described as the ability to be OK with what is.  Some people hear/read the word acceptance and interpret it as a giving up or quitting.  This is not what acceptance is.  Acceptance is the act and process of learning how to allow for our current reality to be. Specifically regarding the topic of COVID-19, an acceptance-based approach might allow us to engage in protective behaviors (like social distancing and quarantining) with our family, friends and coworkers, while also understanding both emotionally and intellectually that for at least today and maybe tomorrow, this is the way things are.
  • Take care of yourself.
    • Times of increased stress can also be times where people forget to engage in basic self-care behaviors. In times of high stress we should consider practicing self-care more consistently. Examples of this could be going to walks or getting exercise (per your doctor’s recommendations), using adaptive eating habits, maintaining socially connections if and when possible and appropriate, engaging in spiritual practice and/or practicing anxiety-reduction techniques (like deep breathing, meditation and prayer).
Lucchio, and his team at the Bone & Joint Institute, also recommend the following resources: