Loyola Medicine Psychologists Offer Tips and Resources for Coping During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly and drastically changed day-to-day life in the U.S., causing fear and anxiety. Loyola Medicine clinical psychologists Elizabeth Simmons, PsyD, and Laura Wool, PsyD, provide tips for coping and staying positive during this time, as well as resources for securing additional help and care, in two, new Loyola Medicine videos: “Practical tips for staying positive during COVID-19” and “Coping during COVID-19.”

Simmons and Wool say it’s important to allow yourself to feel anxiety and fear during this stressful and unprecedented time. While “nobody likes to feel anxious or scared,” says Wool, it’s important to “work on inviting those feelings in,” while also realizing that those feelings can coexist with other, more positive feelings.

“You can feel anxious and have fun with your kids,” says Simmons. “You can feel uncertain about what’s coming next and find comfort in playing with your dog or going out for a walk with your dog. You don’t need to get rid of that anxiety in order to also feel joy, happiness and calm.”

Tips for staying positive

To help maintain an emotional balance, Simmons and Wool recommend:

  • Choosing activities that make you feel good. These can include “calling a friend, taking a walk, listening to music, reading a book, engaging in a craft,” says Wool.
  • Checking the facts. “At a time like this, when we really don’t know what’s coming next,” says Simmons, “it’s important to check the facts,” or “decatastrophizing,” keeping a check on our thoughts and focusing on the information that we have access to “and what it’s telling us.”
  • Focusing on what you do have control over. “When people are feeling a loss of control, focusing on what you do have control over can be very helpful,” says Wool. For example, “following the strong recommendation right now to socially distance yourself can feel very empowering.”
  • Maintaining a regular sleep/wake cycle and daily routine. “We take for granted that we have these built-in routines in our lifestyle in terms of getting up in the morning and getting dressed,” says Simmons. It’s important to continue to wake up and go to bed at the same times every day.
  • Taking walks and getting outside. “Make sure that you’re not too sedentary,” say Wool. Get up, take walks and “try to get outside for 10 minutes every day.”
  • Practicing simple breathing exercises to stay calm. “Simple breathing exercises where you count your breaths, and pause between each inhale and exhale, can help slow things down and help calm anxiety.”
  • Watching what you eat. Make sure that you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and that you are not eating too many processed foods, says Wool.
  • Maintaining social connections by phone and video. “We know that body language facilities a lot of the connection we experience socially,” says Simmons. “The more you can see people’s faces, the more you can see people smiling, the more that will combat the loneliness factor” of this pandemic.
  • Taking a moment to be mindful. “Mindfulness helps you stay in the present moment,” says Wool. She said there are apps, such as Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm that can help with mindfulness.

When coping is difficult or impossible

Simmons and Wool explain that for some individuals, the stress of COVID-19 may result in prolonged or acute feelings of depression and/or anxiety, which may require additional resources and/or immediate professional help.

“When you notice that for a significant period of time, let’s say at least two weeks, that you are starting to just feel down or depressed all day every day, or you’re noticing that the anxiety is at a level that is really starting to impair your sleep and your appetite—you’re sleeping less or sleeping more, or eating less or eating more,” says Wool. Or, “you are starting to feel hopeless, having thoughts of suicide, or noticing an increase in substance use, “that would be a time to either reach out to a local hotline or to reach out to your primary care provider for a referral.”

If you have a plan or intent to harm yourself, or others, please call 911, says Wool and Simmons.

Additional resources

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
  • Crisis Textline: Text TALK to 741741

To make an in-person or telehealth appointment with a psychologist, or for more information, contact Loyola Medicine at 1-888-584-7888 or visit www.loyolamedicine.org/psychology.

To learn more about Loyola Medicine, visit loyolamedicine.org.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in Chicago’s western suburbs that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC)Gottlieb Memorial HospitalMacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from more than 1,800 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. & Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois’s largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital.

Having delivered compassionate care for more than 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its academic affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 180 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research facility at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center.

MacNeal Hospital is a 374-licensed-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, including acute rehabilitation, an inpatient skilled nursing facility and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919. For more information, visit loyolamedicine.org.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 106 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $19.3 billion and assets of $27 billion, the organization returns $1.2 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 129,000 colleagues, including about 7,500 employed physicians and clinicians.

6 Ways to Deal with Different Emotional Conditions

Outrage is an intense feeling. On the off chance that it isn’t taken care of fittingly, it might have disastrous outcomes for you and those nearest to you. Uncontrolled outrage can prompt to contentions, physical battles, altercations, strike and self-hurt. Then again, very much oversaw outrage can be a valuable feeling that persuades you to roll out real improvements.

Anger triggers the body’s ‘battle or flight’ reaction. Different emotions that trigger this response incorporate dread, energy and uneasiness. The adrenal organs surge the body with stress hormones, for example, adrenaline and cholesterol.

In this way, here we are going to discuss six ways to deal with different emotional conditions.

Start Counting

It might sound senseless, yet numbering to ten (or, in case you’re truly irate, 100) is an impressive approach to mitigate some developed pressure instantly. Outrage causes your pulse and heart rate to rise so checking to whatever number is suitable for you will allow your body to chill and back off your breathing so you can get some an opportunity to think before saying or accomplishing something you may lament.

Give Yourself a Time Out

No, you’re not five years of age any longer, and yes, it might be an odd thing to attempt, however, if it works for children, why wouldn’t a “period out” work for you as well? You don’t need to place yourself in a corner or send yourself up to your room; however taking brief breaks for the duration of the day may help you deal with the anxiety. A touch of calm time is frequently the best type of treatment with regards to outrage since it allows you to quiet down and consider what precisely you’re furious about and how the issue can best be explained.

Hit the Gym

Nothing de-focuses on the body very like work out. When you get yourself angry about something you can’t control or change, it’s awesome to take some control over your feelings and get those great vibe endorphin’s pumping through your framework with a trek to the rec center. Go for a fast run or a 30-minute walk, attempt a Pilates or Yoga class. Only move your body so your psyche can begin to unwind, giving you full control over your outrage rather than the different way.

Address the Issue

A lot of things can bring about anger yet those issues can likewise be comprehended, in case you’re willing to meet them head on. Instead of simply exploding and raging off when your adolescent makes trouble, your collaborator pesters you or your life partner doesn’t see eye-to-eye with you on a particular issue, deal with getting to the base of the problem. Talking about issues in a way that all involved feel regarded is something each person can do.  t might be hard and it might even be incredibly agonizing, yet it will be justified, despite all the trouble.

Find a Way to Let Go

Resentment is a horrible thing to convey, and it does nothing to help the more serious issues you may confront. Consider where your outrage genuinely originates from, get to the source and after that figure out how to make peace with it. Figuring out how to acknowledge that you may never get the expression of remorse you need from somebody and have the capacity to excuse them in any case and advance entire and sound is one of the greatest lessons in life but on the other hand it’s one of the main approaches to at last say farewell to the angrier you.

Get Help

We can’t do everything all alone. While some may think that its humiliating or an indication of shortcoming to request help looking for exhortation and direction with your outrage issues is frequently the best game-plan. Regardless of whether it’s a parent, companion, collaborator or an expert, impart your anger points to somebody. Opening up and conceding that things might gain out of power is regularly the first long haul answer for your anger issue.

Listen Up! It’s time to take Misophonia Seriously

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For the last fifteen years, my family and friends have known that I simply cannot cope with the sound of people eating. I absolutely hate it. Similarly, the sound of rustling plastic bags or crisp packets can send me in to a rage. Initially people treated it as a quirk of mine, a phase not to be taken seriously. As my reactions remained consistent year after year, my family began to realize I did not just dislike these sounds that were actually causing me to suffer which eventually led to the diagnosis of misophonia.

The sound of mastication has a very physical and emotional impact on me. The instant I hear someone eating I begin to feel hot and faint, my hands feel weak and I am uncomfortably aware of everything I touch. My anger levels rise within seconds and no matter how much I rationalize with myself, I cannot calm myself down. The result is either an angry outburst where I rudely point out to the person how awful the sound of their eating is making me feel, or I have to leave the room.

As you would expect, having misophonia has led to many awkward situations. The moment you ask someone to eat more quietly, especially when they were not eating noisily to start with, always, without exception, leaves both of you feeling irrevocably uncomfortable. That awkwardness is exacerbated significantly when the person you ask is a complete stranger. I quickly learned not to tell people I have a problem and consequently have instead found myself desperately insisting on background music when having dinner at other people’s houses.

Prior to being diagnosed with misophonia, which literally means ‘hatred of sound’, I would not willingly talk to people about the problem because people usually have one of two reactions; they either think that I am exaggerating or they think it is funny to eat more loudly in an attempt to watch my anger levels rise.

As a teenager, there were several months, where my Mother and I would fall out every dinner time because I would fly in to a rage not only at the sound of eating but also at her belief that I could in some way choose not to have the reaction I was having. I felt so frustrated and isolated knowing that my behaviour was completely unacceptable but being unable to do anything to control it. Misophonia is an embarrassing condition. When I am at a meal with other people, my rational self is constantly saying that I am happy that people are enjoying their food and that chewing is a completely natural and unavoidable aspect of staying alive. But my emotional self is in agony.

Many people have sounds that they find irritating and indeed, the sound of other people eating is a common one, however, much in the same way that people mis-label themselves as anxious or depressed, misphonia is much more intense than a mere dislike of sound. Many people use the word “depression” when they really mean that they are sad about a specific event that happened that day. Those who suffer from depression know the vast difference between the feeling of explicable sadness and the personality-shattering emptiness that is depressive illness. In much the same way, misophonia is very much an illness. It takes your dislike of sound to a level where it affects your quality of life.

Misophonia was formally recognized as a neurological disorder in 2001. However, many Doctors are still unaware of the condition and there is, as of yet, no cure. The Misophonia Activation Scale (MAS-1) was created in order to measure the severity of a person’s condition. The scale ranges from 0 to 10, with level 3 being a manageable feeling of discomfort to level 10 in which the sufferer causes physical harm to themselves or others as a result of the sound. More extreme cases of misophonia are known to have led to divorce, homelessness and social exclusion.

Personally, I have learned some coping mechanisms although it is still something I have to deal with on a daily basis, but music is a life-saver. I manage my anger by playing music at meal times, however this means I am somewhat dependent on music being available. If I get on public transport without my ipod, I immediately feel stressed.

Without music to drown out the sound of any eating or rustling, I am left with the options of either pressing my fingers firmly in to my ears for the whole journey or removing myself from the bus or train, which is far from ideal. Another coping strategy is ensuring that I never meet people whom I know to be loud eaters for lunch or dinner. Whilst that may seem dramatic, it is the only thing I can do to save our relationship.

Support groups have been set up for sufferers and excellent websites such as www.misophonia-uk.org and www.misophonia.com can give advice about available treatments such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as provide information for the family and friends of sufferers. To help those suffering with misophonia please do some reading about the condition. If someone tells you they have the condition please take it seriously as if they were telling you about any other illness; I cannot stress this enough.

Whilst you may not understand misophonia, by ignoring it and refusing to help the sufferer manage the sounds that bother them, you are knowingly inflicting pain on another person. I can tell you from personal experience that misophonia is a very real and distressing condition.

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