Isolating yourself for a length of time is difficult and stressful for individuals and families. And fear, worry, or depression can be overwhelming. Here's help.
The County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services provides information, support, and assistance for anyone in the county trying to cope with this difficult time, including dealing with pre-existing issues and dealing with grief. They have staff fluent in all the major languages spoken in the county, and their online information is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Farsi.
Also see the box below Tips for D.I.Y. Stress Management.
Isolation and stress are not the only problems - but isolation can make most things worse, especially for kids, older adults, and those with disabilities. Also, people aged 60 and up, and people with some prior health conditions, are more likely to get seriously ill if they come down with COVID-19. California state and the Bay Area counties have several initiatives to help seniors and their caregivers, including the Friendship Line California () "warmline" available if seniors just want to reach out, and volunteer programs to making check-in phone calls.
For more information on helping kids deal with stress, see the box below Resources for Kids (and Their Parents).
Those with little to no safety net are hit harder by the economic and social disruptions of this time. In general, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and other people of color bear the multiple burdens of ill health, job vulnerability, poverty, and little access to health care in the U.S. Data show that COVID-19, like asthma and diabetes, hits those communities harder. Unfortunately, racism related to this pandemic has made coping even more difficult in some communities.
Please see the page in this guide for In for the Long Haul, the box on Economic Support for links to help with food, housing, health care coverage, and job loss.
These additional resources may be helpful for marginalized people, and those dealing with racism:
These times can be especially troublesome for folks who were already dealing with high anxiety, eating disorders, other mental health issues, traumatic past experiences, or issues with substance abuse.
Healthcare workers (especially in hospital settings) are facing unheard-of situations and stress, and perhaps also professional crises. Here are a couple of resources from UC Davis Emergency Medicine designed for their situations. Caregivers, too, face increased challenges - see our Caregiving Resources guide's webpage on Caring for the Caregiver for support for them.
Read on for links to helplines, for more specific resources, and for Tips on DIY Stress Management below.
Please reach out for help, to friends, family, and/or to the resources linked here. Even if we can't be physically close to each other, we can still be here fo each other.
Telephones still work (thank goodness!), and text and electronic mail still connect us. Social media - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the rest - can be a big help but they can also be a big problem because we're easily overwhelmed in this time. Better to connect directly with family and friends. The free versions of video tools like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime will let us see each other, too.
Sometimes, though, friends and family are not enough. When that happens, you can reach out to these resources.
Got a worry or concern? You don't have to wait until it becomes a full-blown disaster to get emotional support - talk to someone before it gets to that point. Call or chat 24/7 with the California statewide Warm Line at 1-855-845-7415 or one of these other resources.
Hotlines or HelpLines can refer you to helpful resources, including some you might not know about:
For some of us, sheltering at home isn't all that safe.
If you, your child, or your parent is in a violent situation, or at risk for abuse, please reach out for help. Call 211, the crisis referral service, to get assistance. You can get help with creating a safety plan, with navigating restraining orders (even if courts are closed at the moment), and also help with connecting to resources like food or emergency shelter or clothing if that's what's needed right now.
There are multiple domestic violence agencies, rape crisis support groups, child and elder abuse prevention organizations still in operation throughout Santa Clara County. Some have their own 24/7 hotlines (and 211 can connect you to those if needed).
If it doesn't feel safe to make a voice phone call, maybe a computer chat service like the ones on the Safe Chat Silicon Valley, National Domestic Violence Network, YWCA of Silicon Valley, Asian Women's Home websites would work. SafeNest (located in Nevada but connected to resources around the country) offers 24/7 text support in many different languages - text to 800-486-7282; TDD 702-647-8584. And texting the word "coronavirus" to: 211211 will reach the 211 helpline also.
If you're an LGBTQ+ or genderqueer teen and having trouble (with your home situation or another issue), contact the TREVOR Project 24/7 hotline (phone number and text options are on the website linked below).
Tip 1. Make a plan or schedule. Not only do we need structure in our lives right now to replace the rhythms of going to school, going to work, regular dates with friends, and the rest of life B.C. (Before Coronavirus), creating a self-care plan for ourselves and our families can make it easier to accomplish these things. Don't schedule every hour of the day (or your kids' days), that's not healthy - but having some predictable events throughout the week helps us not feel lost. The checklists and other planning tools in this document from the California Surgeon General could be really useful.
Tip 2. Go easy on yourself and others. Our lives have been turned upside down, so of course we're unsure and confused. It can help to reframe our thinking, as advised by the National Center for PTSD.
As time goes on, our feelings of loss many get more intense. Some of us may be grieving people lost during this pandemic. While it was written with older people in mind, our resource guide on Depression, Grief, and Loneliness has many useful links.
Tip #3. Allow time each day for physical activity. This could be stretching or yoga, a walk around your neighborhood, dancing in your livingroom, or doing jumping jacks while waiting for rice to cook, our bodies need movement. Especially when there are limits on what we can safely do. Older adults can find links to suggested exercises that can be done at home on our online resource guide Common Concerns in Later Life - Balance and Mobility.
Also, if you're working from home, or parenting at home, or caring for someone else - make sure you take honest-to-goodness breaks for yourself. (Taking a break from one task to do another task doesn't count.)
Tip #4. Try to get a good night's sleep on a regular basis. It's a vicious cycle - stress interferes with our sleep, and poor sleep interferes with our ability to cope with stress - but there are ways to interrupt that cycle. Take a look at our resource guide on Issues with Sleep.
Tip #5. Try mindfulness practices to calm anxiety and fear. Breathing exercises, meditation, and other mindfulness practices are all useful. These articles and blog posts link to information on many different practices, including podcasts and guided meditations.
Tip #6. Eat healthy, if you can. Nervous eating, binging on sweets or salt crunchies or processed food, all make it harder for our bodies to cope with stress. Try to keep to regular mealtimes. The CA Surgeon General's guidelines include:
That's not always easy, especially when it's difficult to get food under the shelter-in-place order. The Food Assistance During the Crisis section on the In for the Long Haul page in this guide has details of meal programs, food banks, and shopping advice.
Children show stress in different ways than adults, and that will change as a child gets older. Also, with shelter-in-place, school-age children struggle with isolation and structure..
Parents of school-age children may find this advice helpful for explaining COVID-19 to their kids:
Some organizations have created comics and picture books for kids about the pandemic.
A Bay Area NPR affiliate, KQED, has published a comic to inform kids about coronavirus and other similarly-communicable diseases. Available in English and in Chinese, it can be viewed on screen or printed and folded into a zine.
The pandemic has dumped onto teens additional worries and concerns about independence, about school, and their future prospects, on top of all the usual issues of adolescence. If you or they need extra support, check out these links below (and the warm lines, helplines and hotlines listed above).
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