COVID-19 Resources for North Dakotans
A Message from NDPA regarding COVID-19
While North Dakotans have proven their strength and resiliency over the years, we are currently faced with an “invisible enemy,” the likes of which many of us have never seen. When faced with unknowns, we can experience fear and anxiety. Although this is a normal reaction when faced with danger, our worry may lead to maladaptive or dysfunctional behavior.
The North Dakota Psychological Association (NDPA) would like to help those in North Dakota who are experience distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychologists are experts in stress and anxiety management who encourage all North Dakotans to take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to ease your mind and promote health for your body during the current crisis. We encourage all North Dakotans to channel their fear or anxiety into adaptive and functional thoughts and behaviors:
- Maintain perspective: The virus is a real threat and something we cannot control. But, there are many things we can control, like hand hygiene, showing kindness/support for others, and practicing social distancing. Focus on those.
- Educate yourself on appropriate precautions and follow them. Be prepared and keep a realistic mindset. For example, chances of contracting the virus are greatly decreased when following appropriate precautions, and most people (80% per CDC) experience only mild to moderate symptoms.
- Stay informed but not inundated. Consume media very wisely and in limited amounts. Keep up-to-date as the situation evolves, but do NOT allow a steady diet of frightening statistics for you, your children, or your family. Make sure the source provides information, not drama. Think of your thoughts as a train on a track. When a train first starts moving, it’s going slowly, and we have a chance to stop the progression or change the direction. The more we dwell on scary statistics of possibilities, the more momentum our thoughts gain and the harder they are to stop or calm.
- When faced with a “new normal,” such as kids out of school, working from home, and limitations on usual recreational activities, maintain or develop structure and routines for yourself and children. Structure and routines lend a sense of security. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each day. Have a general schedule for when you will exercise, go outside, eat meals, and complete general tasks. Flexibility in your schedule is fine, but having general predictability to your day will provide a sense of control.
- Practice relaxation strategies such as progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, and prayer to reduce physiological and psychological stress. There are many online videos, phone applications, and online webinars.
- Physical activity is very helpful in reducing anxiety and encourages a sense of well-being and control. Go for a walk, take a hike, ride your bike, use exercise videos at home, or try gentle chair exercises.
- Go outside: even ten minutes outside has been shown to boost mood and reduce stress.
- Try to find some positives in the situation. Perhaps you’ve had more time to engage with your family/children or catch up on needed tasks around the home. Look for moments of fun, joy, or accomplishment.
- Exercise your brain. Learn a new skill. Memorize passages from favorite writings, keep a gratitude journal, or pick up a new or forgotten hobby.
- Find creative ways to serve and stay connected with others. Be a good neighbor, think of others’ needs, and reach out to trusted others through phone calls, email, Facetime, text, and social media. Many organizations, such as churches, universities, museums, and zoos, are posting their services, classes, and information online.
- Reach out to a clergy member or mental health provider if you need to talk with someone. Many mental health providers are using telemental health to continue to see clients at home.
The idea is to focus on what you can control and change. We must all practice social distance, perhaps self-isolation or sheltering-in-place. But, we get to decide how we spend that time and what we choose to dwell on.
Just like other health care providers, psychologists are still practicing today via telepsychology. If you need services or assistance with managing your anxiety or depression during these challenging times, visit our website (ndpsych.org) to find a psychologist. We are here to help!
These articles from the American Psychological Association and the CDC may help you, or someone you know, cope with growing fear and anxiety:
Speaking of Psychology: Coronavirus Anxiety
Stress and Coping:
The following resources may assist families and caregivers assist children in coping during COVID-19:
Talking to Your Kids
Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
Helping Families Cope with COVID-19
Resources for Parents