Caring for Your Whole Self During COVID-19
December 8, 2020
Social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands can help people stay safe physically during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even more is at risk. "We recognize that prioritizing mental health and wellness is critical during these challenging times," says Joseph Garcia, Director of Clinical Services, South Texas Health System Behavioral. "Taking steps to manage your stress is just as important as taking care of your physical health."
Self-Care Best Practices
The pandemic's toll, in lives impacted physically and emotionally, has been huge across the tight-knit community of the Rio Grande Valley. Situations can quickly trigger negative thoughts, which can lead to behavioral responses that further complicate matters.
- Focus on the present – Practice mindful meditation and breath awareness; be grateful
- Stay positive – Identify, challenge and restructure negative thoughts; avoid focusing on fears and situations beyond one’s control
- Maintain a healthy focus – Stay active and exercise; eat regularly scheduled meals and avoid foods that cause inflammation; celebrate all victories, no matter how small; praise others for conscious efforts; make sleep a priority; use a daily routine to prepare for bed
- Identify your limits and take breaks as needed – Temporarily disconnect from stressful situations, including news and social media (if they make you anxious), to help regain strength, focus and determination
- Share experiences with friends, coworkers and colleagues, and support each other – Use technology to maintain social connections; consider regular check-ins or activities
- Motivate yourself and others to start or complete projects that have been put off for a while – This will enable personal growth and bring joy and a sense of accomplishment
As always, South Texas Health System is here for you — safe, trusted and ready to care for you and deliver a superior healthcare experience.
When to See a Professional
Exposure to acute or prolonged stress may trigger changes in physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning. Symptoms may include:
- Behavioral: Conflicts with others, risk-taking behavior, increased use of drugs/alcohol and refusal to follow orders
- Cognitive: Difficulty thinking clearly or remembering, inability to make decisions, and confusion
- Emotional: Increased feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, lack of motivation, anxiety, perceived danger, insomnia, nightmares or flashbacks, anger, irritability, hostility, paranoia, emotional dysregulation or moral distress (self-criticism and recurrent feelings of shame, guilt or disgust, which can also contribute to depression or post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Physical: Rapid heart rate, palpitations, headaches, muscle tension, nausea, difficulty sleeping, nightmares and inability to relax
If any of these symptoms persist for one week or a change of functioning is noticed, it is highly recommended to seek professional help through a primary care physician or counselor. If someone you know experiences such symptoms, you should:
- Listen empathetically and offer support
- Thank them for sharing their thoughts and feelings, and encourage them to consider or seek professional assistance
- Understand that anyone helping during this time is susceptible to excessive stress and trauma, and is vulnerable to secondary traumatic stress
Alternate resources may include intensive outpatient programs or group therapy sessions, online support groups, educational webinars and more.
Schedule a No-Cost Assessment
Walk-ins welcome. We respect your privacy and hold all information discussed in the strictest confidence. Alternate resources may include intensive outpatient programs or group therapy sessions, online support groups, educational webinars and more.
2102 W. Trenton Road
Edinburg, TX 78539
Physicians are on the medical staff of South Texas Health System Behavioral but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of this facility. South Texas Health System Behavioral shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.