At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Booksellers Association collected a range of information to offer tips for booksellers on how to manage the stresses of an unprecedented experience. Here are some ideas, suggestions, and best practices:
Practice Self-Care Tips in Your Day-to-Day:
- Stay connected to people you trust through video chatting, texting, or regular phone calls. Talk about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- When you are working/living with others during a crisis, it’s important to check in with yourself to distinguish which emotions are yours versus emotions you have taken on from a customer/friend/neighbor/family member. During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings.
- Keep to your daily routines as much as possible; invent new routines to replace those you can no longer practice. This can include cleaning, daily chores, singing, painting, or other activities.
- Learn simple daily physical exercises to perform at home, in quarantine, or isolation to maintain mobility and reduce boredom.
- Schedule time for family games, down time, and private time (if possible), and follow your schedule. Make time to unwind.
- Keep a growing list of positive experiences — your own or others’ — as well as things you are grateful for. Make joy a priority.
- Eat regular meals, and try to keep them healthy.
- Meditate. This has been proven to help with sleep, stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Remember that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Your response to a situation may be completely different than another person’s due to a number of factors.
- Help others, through peer support, checking on your neighbors, and offering childcare for medical personnel.
Check out Resources Dedicated to People of Color:
- Therapy for Black Girls
- Melanin & Mental Health
- BEAM Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective
- Depressed While Black
- Sunshine Behavioral Health
Make the Most of Technology and Entertainment
- Check out apps like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace, or YouTube channels like Calm.
- Healthline.com lists a variety of podcasts for different mental health needs and diverse communities, whether you want straight science, apt advice, or lots of laughs.
- Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by By Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
- Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mark Epstein
- How to Sit (Mindfulness Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
- Join Mental Health America’s National Inspire Community, which has provided advice on living with mental illness during the COVID-19 outbreak. In this community, you can ask questions and read responses or filter by topic, and you can create a health profile that allows you to find members with similar issues to yours.
- Check out this Forbes article on “The Psychology Of Uncertainty: How To Cope With COVID-19 Anxiety”
- Watch this TED Talk on How to Make Stress Your Friend
- From Psychology.org, learn about Dealing With Coronavirus Anxiety: Expert Tips
Limit Your News Intake
As Dr. Lisa Blum, PSY.D., explains, “News of the coronavirus has spread into every corner by now, and so many alarmist messages can take quite a toll on our sense of well-being, our nervous system, and our ability to be present and care for our partners, children, and loved ones. One important way to manage the anxiety spiral of information overload is to be sure you are receiving information from only the most reliable sources. Be appropriately cautious about posts on non-scientific social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and email chains. Instead, follow reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Limit how many times per day you are receiving incoming alerts about the virus — we recommend spending a set amount of time (e.g., 15 minutes) once per day to get your information, and then turn your media to other topics for the rest of the day. Our nervous systems don’t hold up well under the constant onslaught of alarms. Talk in advance to your health care providers about your specific needs if you or your loved ones have health vulnerabilities.”
- Read credible news sources, and do so only once or twice a day.
- Remember that people who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion, and kindness.
- Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected.
Take Advantage of Mental Health Hotlines and Warmlines:
Making a decision to reach out for help while in crisis is overwhelming. Unfortunately, once that decision is made it doesn’t guarantee a good experience. If you call a hotline and aren’t getting the supportive conversation you need, ask to be transferred to a different operator; that is completely valid. Callers should expect wait times, and switching operators may increase that time.
If you are wondering if you should call a hotline, you probably should. Finding a connection with someone is the first step to feeling better.
- Mental health warmlines: Unlike a hotline for those in immediate crisis, “warmlines” provide early intervention with emotional support that can prevent a crisis. Google warmlines to find some in your area, or check this link.
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center.
- Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to reach the 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This helpline is dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available free to all residents in the U.S. and its territories.
- Text 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. to text with a trained crisis counselor. The Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis through text messaging. (See this video explanation of the Crisis Text Line.)
- The LGBT National Help Center also offers hotlines, including specific ones for youth and seniors.
Try Virtual Therapy:
- BetterHelp, a platform recommended by the American Psychological Association, specializes in online therapy for non-severe mental health issues. BetterHelp offers a HIPAA-compliant therapy service that partners with the American Medical Student Association, Mental Health America, and the International Society for Mental Health Online. Prices range from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly) and these prices include unlimited messaging as well as weekly live sessions (chat, phone, or video) if you prefer.
- Talkspace, a subscription therapy service, lets you send a therapist text messages, audio messages, and picture and video messages in a private, text-based chat room. Current plans that are available for one-on-one private chat range from $65 to $99 per week.