This webinar first aired on April 17, 2020
- Identify current issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak
- Identify what health issues to access care for during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Describe a mind-body approach to reducing anxiety and fear during this health crisis
Dr. Gianine Rosenblum, Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, and Tonya Winders
Dr. Gianine Rosenblum, a Clinical Psychologist in private practice who specializes in trauma care and Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Network’s Telehealth Initiative, joined Tonya Winders, President and CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network for this third webinar in our COVID-19 series. Discussions included the medical, social and psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The presenters also shared helpful interventions for both patients and providers.
Questions and Answers from the Webinar
What are some strategies and tools to assist students who may have lost a loved one due to COVID-19 as they return to school?
There are two answers to this. For students who may have experienced loss and are still on lockdown, this is a challenge since grief is often processed through social connection. Encourage students to find a safe form of social connection, grieve on their own timeline and in their own way, as well as share memories (both negative and positive) of the person lost.
For students as they return to school, understanding the nature of the loss is important. Is this someone that was part of their daily lives or someone with a more distant relationship? Since COVID-19 may affect multiple family members in a single household or community, understanding relationships and the impact of the loss can help guide your support.
Remember the grief experience is not linear, and new feelings may surface over time. Provide opportunities for students to express their emotions as they come and go. An open-door policy for giving students to access support when they need it, is most helpful.
In addition to deep belly breathing techniques, are there some alternative coping strategies that can be used to help with stress?
Lots of young people say that meditation or relaxation feels unnatural or even stupid, so there are several other techniques that may be useful. For kids and teens, movement is super helpful, so try things like jumping jacks or other exercises that increases the heart rate.
Singing is great for stress relief and also helps regulate breathing, encouraging kids to sing or singing together with kids may be helpful. Blowing bubbles helps regulate breaths and that can be calming. Temperature change such as a hot bath or cold shower may help. Holding onto something cold may help (like a cold piece of fruit).
Powerful sensory experiences can help shift someone out of an agitated state. Swirling glitter jars or snow globes and watching the particles settle, as well as playing with or pounding clay or playdough can also help kids de-stress.
When a person isn’t experiencing stress, but rather a dissociation, are there techniques to deal with that feeling?
Dissociation is a common human experience when a person is under great stress. A sense of being shut-down or frozen, depersonalization, or that things don’t seem real – these are not abnormal feelings. These feelings also occur with panic disorder, trauma and chronic stress.
To deal with these symptoms, grounding strategies are useful. These are techniques that bring awareness to the physical body in the here and now. One tool is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique – naming five things that in the moment you see, four things that you physically feel, three things that you hear, two things that you smell, and one positive thing in your body now. Doing this repeatedly until you feel less disassociated may help.
If that doesn’t work, sensory techniques like feeling hot things or smelling things may help bring a sense of connection. Trying to identify the stressor or trigger is important and thinking about ways to reduce stress before you find yourself in a dissociated state may be helpful.
The following is the text of a handout of mental health resources
If you have thoughts that life is not worth living, of suicide, hurting yourself in other ways, or have thoughts of hurting or killing others, reach out for help right away.
Diagnosis of COVID-19 or another serious illness in yourself or a loved one can be a frightening or even traumatic experience. A quarantine, or coming out of quarantine, is highly stressful. Professional support can help with coping.
Healthcare workers of all kinds (particularly those in “hot spots”) and their families are under extreme stress at this time and may benefit from professional support.
Essential workers required to or choosing to continue to work and coming into contact with people daily may experience high stress due to the risk of social contact. They may also benefit from professional support.
Other signs that professional help is appropriate:
- Uncontrollable feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, feelings of self-hatred.
- A loss of the ability to enjoy the pleasurable things you still have access to during quarantine.
- Choosing to withdraw or disconnect from others, including those who can provide support.
- Significant changes in appetite, energy and activity levels not related to the restrictions of physical distancing or quarantine.
- Difficulty concentrating, poor school performance.
- Difficulty sleeping. Having nightmares or upsetting thoughts and/or images during the day that you can’t shake.
- Worsening of chronic health problems or experiencing new health problems such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems or skin rashes.
- Problems with anger or short temper.
- In children, significant regression in behavior (e.g., return to bedwetting, persistent distress, clinginess)
- Increased/excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs (prescription or illegal), sex, pornography, online shopping or video games in order to cope.
- Being the victim of crime (including scams) or abuse.
- Loss or grief. Losing a loved one at a time when rituals (such as funerals) may be unavailable can worsen distress.
Please seek help if your feelings overwhelm you for several days in a row.
We’re here to help! The Allergy & Asthma Network is committed to getting information into the hands of our patients and stakeholders during this uncertain time of the COVID-19 crisis.