What you think affects the way you feel. We can’t separate our mind from our body; thoughts affect our health. By changing your thoughts then, you can change, at least to a degree, your health status. Let me give you an example.
Suppose you are very upset because you believe something bad is going to happen, such as having your car slide off the road in a winter storm. You fret over whether you should go out at all, and you realize you are physically uncomfortable too. You don’t feel good in a general way – your head may not ache, but you feel congested and tired. Your back hurts and you feel sore all over.
Then you go out on your trip – and you don’t slide off the road. In fact, the sun comes out, the snow melts off the road, and you realize you’re feeling better! Sound familiar? What we think affects how we feel. Therefore, how we think can have an impact on how we feel.
There are many ways to change our thoughts – prayer, meditation, relaxation exercises, and talk therapy, to name a few. Not all of them will work for everyone, and it may take some time and persistence for any of them to work. Don’t give up trying different methods though until you find what works for you!
This Coronavirus crisis has been quite a stress-producing event for all of us, hasn’t it? Not only does it include the fear of catching the virus and getting sick, wondering if there will be the equipment available we need to get well, but also the loss of jobs, dealing with home working environments, not being able to purchase supplies you need, and the list goes on and on. It all adds to the stress level those of us with PTSD deal with every day. It’s no walk in the woods.
Let me suggest you take stock now of what you need and don’t have, or want and can’t get, so the next time an emergency arises you are better prepared. That being said, dealing with this added stress is something we need to think about and develop a plan to handle.
Of course, you know the VA has many resources for coping. The VA COACH ON-LINE is one, with many suggestions for ways to handle your stress. Meditation, physical exercise, relaxation techniques, journaling, talk therapy, anger management techniques, and many other ideas are listed along with guided exercises to teach you how to use them most effectively.
The thing is, each one of us finds our own way of coping, and when times become increasingly rough, we may need to add additional items to our usual ways of coping. We often find that no single mechanism will keep us in the healthy zone, so we have to resort to a mixture of different coping techniques.
Take some time today to think about what’s adding to your stress levels, and come up with a plan that will help bring your anxiety to a manageable level. When you have PTSD, you tend to want to isolate, but don’t fall into that trap! Call a friend and talk about what’s happening. Old adages such as “a burden shared is a burden halved” exist for a reason…they are true! Use your music, try diversion, write down a plan for what you’ll do as soon as the shelter-in-place order is lifted and follow through on it. Don’t let depression, stress, anger, or anxiety win – make a plan today!
Everything and everyone seems to be focused on Covid-19 these days, and while I understand our need to stay updated and informed, I think there is a danger of forgetting there are also good things happening. While these may be the times that put pressure on all of us, many, many people are stepping up and reaching out to help each other. It’s heartening and it reestablishes my faith in humanity.
I have a friend who is extremely functionally disabled. He struggles to stay independent, working with multiple disabilities. His friends have stepped up and are bringing him food and dropping off his medications so he doesn’t have to go out (one of his disabilities is COPD). They are calling him almost daily so he doesn’t get lonesome, and they will even drive to his home, sit outside while he stands on the steps so they can visit while respecting the social distancing order. He’s making it through; without these friends, I don’t think he would manage.
Another person I contacted recently told me that a local church member had dropped off a basket of food for her. She was wondering how she was going to manage as she was so afraid of going to the grocery store. She also has breathing difficulties and felt it was too dangerous to go outside her home. She was so thrilled because it seemed to her as if each item had been specifically hand-picked for her enjoyment. And, remember, this was not a church where she attended.
There are many more stories of people who might not have made it if someone hadn’t helped. Can you lend a hand today? Is there someone you can call, someone you can befriend who could use a little help? Try reaching out to someone in need today and find the sweet side of life again!
While all of us shelter-in-place in an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, many businesses and organizations are working to find ways to continue providing services. Most non-essential appointments have been cancelled, as well as most scheduled surgeries that can wait.
As a Veteran, you may find your appointment at the VA Med Center has also been cancelled. That can be a frightening prospect if you were seeking changes in your current treatment plan, or were expecting to have your prescriptions renewed. All is not lose, however. If you would like to try a teleconference or a video conference instead of a face-to-face meeting, you can contact the VA to arrange one by going to: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus/.
If you are looking for accurate information on what Veterans need to know about COVID-19, you can access the VA’s website for the answers by going to the Frequently Asked Questions page. And, if the pressure becomes unbearable, and you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 for assistance. You may also access the Crisis Line at: www.veteranscrisisline.net.