Coronavirus coping tool

By The Health News Team | May 13, 2020
Coronavirus coping tool

On a good day, coping tools are an excellent resource to turn to when tough emotions or feelings arise. As we face the
COVID-19 pandemic and precautions such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders, coping tools are crucial to managing the related anxieties and fears.

Dr. Russ Harris, an acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) trainer and author of the bestselling book
The Happiness Trap, developed a mnemonic tool using the phrase FACE COVID to help cope with the challenging feelings that might come up at times like these.

According to Dr. Kimberley Schulz-McGlenn, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist with the
Senior Intensive Outpatient Program at
Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, FACE COVID is a set of practical guidelines for responding effectively to the natural fear, anxiety and worry accompanying the current pandemic.

"This tool helps us to acknowledge the real human struggle all of us are facing," Dr. Schulz-McGlenn says. "It reminds us to stay in the present moment in order to open up to the full range of our current experience. It helps us to identify what is important, and therefore encourages us to take actions to engage in our lives in a meaningful way, despite the circumstances."

This abridged version of the tool can help you cope with the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic:

FACE COVID Coping Tool

F — Focus on what's in your control.
While you might not be able to control your work situation or how the coronavirus will affect those around you, there are things that you can control. Each day, note three things within your control, such as what you will do with your time, how you will practice self-care and who you will connect with at home or virtually.

A — Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings.
Take a moment to feel — and identify — your feelings. Are you feeling sad, overwhelmed or frustrated? Write down exactly which emotions you are feeling, what thoughts you are having and what memories might be popping up. In identifying the emotions, you are better able to feel, accept and process them.

C — Come back into your body.
Connect with your physical body. Take a few deep breaths and feel the oxygen fill your lungs. Slowly tighten and release your muscles from your head to your toes. Push your feet into the ground or put your hands together and focus on the pressure. Focusing on the physical can help you manage the emotional.

E — Engage in what you are doing.
Focus on the present moment: the activity you are doing, your location and all you can sense about it. Note five things that you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Give your full attention to each step to engage and secure yourself in the present.

C — Commit to effective actions.
There are many things that you can do to keep yourself and those in your home safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can continue to stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing, wear a
face covering when outside the home,
avoid touching your face,
wash your hands and
clean frequently touched surfaces. You can also reach out to loved ones to stay connected, make sure you're getting enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and get exercise of some sort each day.

O — Open up to all feelings, even the negative ones.
Tough feelings are likely to come up, especially during times like this when jobs and finances are affected, we must self-isolate, and we are at risk of becoming ill. While it might be tempting to push those feelings down and try to avoid them, it is important to open yourself up to feeling them and be kind to yourself about how you are handling them.

V — Values: know yours and continue to be guided by them.
Focus on your personal values and how they can guide you through this challenge. Whatever your values, find active ways you can put each into motion. Do you value kindness, honesty and selflessness? Be kind and reach out to someone who needs support. Be honest and find age-appropriate ways to help your children better understand the pandemic. And be selfless and stick to the guidelines meant to keep everyone healthy and safe.

I — Identify your resources.
Take a moment to write down the people and organizations that can provide the support and resources you and your loved ones may need to get through the pandemic. This can include the contact information for your doctor, therapist, family members, friends, neighbors, emergency services and more. This can also include public health agencies that provide updated information about the coronavirus, such as the
California Department of Public Health,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and
World Health Organization (WHO).

D — Distance physically, but not emotionally.
You have been asked to practice social distancing when out in public for essential reasons and to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot stay in touch with the people you care about in other ways. Call, text, email, write a note, or video conference with friends and loved ones to stay connected to your community and sources of support.

"Seek professional help if feelings are impacting your functioning — for example, if you can't sleep, can't eat, can't think, can't take care of yourself or others, or if you feel unable to cope or have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else," says Dr. Schulz-McGlenn. "Call your doctor or 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277) for a referral. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is another resource that is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255. However, if you are in imminent danger, call 911."

Learn more about
mental health services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and read important
COVID-19 information from Sharp. As part of our efforts to keep you safe, we are offering teletherapy and virtual care programs that provide continued access to care. Admissions continue to be in person, so that we can assess patients for their individual care needs.

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Dr. Kimberley Schulz-McGlenn


Dr. Kimberley Schulz-McGlenn, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist with the Senior Intensive Outpatient Program at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.

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