LIVING WELL Coping and Even Thriving During COVID-19 Since arriving in the United States in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic truly has turned our world upside down. Many thousands have lost their lives, while countless others have lost their livelihoods. In light of this new reality, experiencing feelings of grief, anger, fear, anxiety, weariness and cynicism is quite understandable and normal. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by the virus, you’ve likely felt its impact on your life. The ways we move about, educate our kids and do our jobs have changed rapidly, and now even something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store can be a cause for anxiety and stress. And although we can’t wish COVID-19 away, we can take some steps to make our lives a little better during this stressful and unusual time. Get Reliable Information Since COVID-19 is a new disease, the medical community is learning more about it on a continual basis— which, in turn, means information about the pandemic in the media has changed frequently. As a result, you may find a lot of confusing and conflicting news out there. When evaluating such information, ask yourself what facts a story states and what biases the media outlet or reporter may have, and make sure you get information about COVID-19 from reliable sources, such as these websites for the latest information about testing, safety and more: • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): • World Health Organization (WHO): Get Regular Exercise and Eat a Healthy Diet Although many of us are hunkering down at home these days in order to stay safe, getting out of the house regularly—done in a safe manner—can have real benefits. In fact, something as simple as going for a 30-minute walk each day can boost your mood and improve your health. Be sure to drink enough water while exercising, though, since dehydration can lead to headaches and irritability. Also, try to resist the urge to overeat when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Similar to alcohol and drug use, “emotional eating” is often used as a form of selfmedication. Although you may feel comforted while you’re eating a tasty treat, turning to “comfort food” in times of stress isn’t healthy in the long run. Stay Connected It’s okay to acknowledge your sadness over the loss of human connection. Cry when you need to, lament your losses and then move forward. Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is committed to keeping our patients, staff, and community safe through the pandemic. For more information, visit Also, you’ll likely feel less isolated if you stay in touch with friends and family. Try to connect with loved ones through social media, video chat meetings, texts and phone calls. You can even mail letters and cards to loved ones. It’s a great way to stay in touch, and it’s fun to get ‘real’ mail back. Get your kids or grandkids involved in the letter writing! Be Kind to Yourself Find healthy ways to lower your stress level and relax: • Read or listen to a podcast • Find a new hobby or pick up an old one again • Plant a garden • Practice yoga • Foster or adopt a pet And if social media causes you to feel stress, scroll past negative posts and comments, or avoid social media altogether. Take Time for Yourself With many schools and offices closed, families and loved ones are spending a lot more time together at home these days, which can be challenging, even if there’s a lot of love. Set boundaries and take regular time to be alone, if you need it. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself— it’s actually good for your mental well-being. Practice Gratitude Reflect upon the positive things that have come out of this time, and try to appreciate the growth in resiliency you may have experienced. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, writing down what you’re thankful for and your successes each day. Looking back through the journal at a later time can be inspiring and encouraging. Ask yourself what you’ve gone through and succeeded at in the past, and use that as a guide to say, “I can do this.” Need Help? Get help if you or someone you love is struggling. Call or visit online: • Region Ten mental health services: 434-972-1800 • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 • Move2Health Equity: SPONSORED BY

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