Public health and other emergencies can inspire a range of emotions, including but not limited to anxiety about our own health, fear for others in our community, concern for affected family and friends, and other concerns.
Here are some resources for self-help and to understand when to seek outside help for managing these emotions. If you or someone you know has high distress that does not seem to be lessening, talk about it with others or come to the Counseling Center.
Recognizing Distress - A Self-Check List
· Increased anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed
· Depressive symptoms (e.g., sadness, feelings of guilt, crying more than usual) that persist and/or intensify
· Difficulty with focus or concentration accompanied by decreased academic performance
· A feeling of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future
· Sudden anger/irritability and disruptive behaviors or noticeable changes in personality
· Sleep difficulties
· Isolating or withdrawing from others, fear of going into public situations
· Unhealthy coping (e.g., increased alcohol or drug use, engaging in risky/impulsive behaviors)
Psychological Health Tips
· Acknowledge reactions. Allow yourself time to reflect on what you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties about the future.
· Maintain your day-to-day normal activities and social outlets. Resist withdrawing and isolating yourself from the support and caring that others can provide.
· Seek accurate information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and try to limit exposure to social media and news reports that provide no new information.
· Pay attention to positive news instead of only focusing on negative and fear-producing reports.
· Follow the protection and prevention tips given by medical professionals such as the University Health Services here on campus, national medical authorities, and your own medical doctor.
· Practice calming rituals: Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening.
· Seek supports and utilize campus resources. Reach out to friends and family and learn about available campus resources. If you or someone you know has high distress that does not seem to be lessening, talk about it with others or come to the Counseling Center. We are here to help!
Avoid Stigmatizing or Generalizing
· Avoid making assumptions about individuals who you believe may or may not have been exposed to the virus. There have been individuals at colleges and universities who reported encountering discrimination and harassment due to biased assumptions and overreactions. We value our international community members, students of color, and everyone who may be affected by this situation. We want to remind everyone to embody UMBC’s inclusive culture by providing understanding and support during this challenging situation. Be aware of your thoughts and fears and don’t let them lead to actions that undermine the welcoming of all of UMBC’s inquisitive minds.
(adapted from University of Indianapolis coronavirus resources, 2020)