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Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

As the world finds its way through the uncharted waters of this pandemic, you may find yourself navigating your own course. With stay-at-home orders, canceled events and limited gatherings, we are all experiencing isolation and loss on some level. Perhaps you have even suffered from depression at some point this year. You’re not alone.

Person sitting with hands folded, displaying stress symptoms

A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the stress from pandemics can bring about these responses:

  • Fear and worry about health (your own and loved ones’)
  • Fear and worry about your job or finances
  • Concern about loss of support services you depend upon
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Decline of chronic health conditions
  • Increase of mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances

With all of these stressful thoughts, it’s no wonder we may be feeling anxious, which can lead to depression. And while there is so much that is out of our control, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Cope with stress

  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Just knowing the facts can reduce stress and help you feel more empowered.
  • Learn what to do if you are sick. The first step is to contact your healthcare professional.
  • Find out where to get treatment, support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take a break from news and social media. Constantly hearing news of the pandemic adds to your stress.
  • Distract yourself from the stress of the pandemic by taking up a new hobby or something that adds purpose or joy to your life.
person walking on road near woods

Take care of yourself

Connect with others

  • Talk with people you trust about your feelings and concerns.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting in different ways: online, social media, phone or mail.

This pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel endless at times. Until then, use these tips to take care of yourself and to live healthy AND well!

Sources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html  

Robinson, L. and Smith, M. “Dealing with Depression During Coronavirus.” HelpGuide.org. Last updated: May 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Panchal, N. et. al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The Kaiser Family Foundation. August 2020.  https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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person in black sweatshirt looking in window at her grandmother

Through a window, via Facetime and a cell phone — that is how people are saying goodbye during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know, we experienced this last week.  Two of us experienced this with a death of a family member within 24 hours of each other. One death from COVID-19 and another from natural causes, yet the final goodbyes were said without physical touch or personal intimacy with the families.

Susan’s Story
The last day of March 2020 ended with many tears. I received word that my Aunt Patty had died from complications of COVID-19. She was an active and healthy woman with a life-long passion for learning. She made history by becoming the first lay female Catholic Chaplain assigned to a U.S. Military Hospital.

Patty was in the hospital for two days prior to her death.  No visitors were allowed to see her. When Patty took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, her daughter was awoken to a phone call saying her mother was dying, but she would not be permitted to be in the room with her because of the danger of the disease spreading. 

The family requested a priest be present to perform the Last Rites.  This is usually done face to face with the priest anointing the sick. However, the priest was barred from being in the same room with Patty. He performed this religious sacrament over an intercom while the nurse held Patty’s hand. Patty’s daughter said her goodbye to her mother and a final “I love you” over the phone. Those were her last moments with her mother. A funeral is currently not possible because of the government’s limit on 10 people or less being together.  The family is planning a traditional funeral mass to be celebrated in four to six months from now.

Girl with hand on forehead - a screen shot from a facetime phone call

Shannon’s Story
On April 1,2020, I never imagined that I would have to say goodbye to my Baba (the name some Russian grandchildren call their grandma) through a FaceTime chat with my sister. Ohio had a “Stay at Home” order in place, and traveling to New York was out of the question.

I found out that the facility where Baba lived was not allowing anyone in the room.  This was the opposite of what I had expected. I had always envisioned Baba’s family surrounding her, playing games, and talking, as we held her hand,  being next to her. 

However, due to this awful COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, that was not possible. Baba lived on the first floor of a nursing home. Her children, as well as grandchildren were able to send their love and communication with her only through her window. 

My sister said, “I  taught her  how to say ‘I love you’ through her glass window. So that’s what we did. We smiled, we cried, we said we love each other, and we blew kisses. All through a glass window. I would have risked getting what she had.. Just to have been there with her while she passed. To have held her hand, to have told her it’s okay, you’ve been strong all your life.”

Girl sitting in a chair looking into a window

The night before our grandma passed, my sister called me. She was outside of Baba’s window in the rain and cold, face pressed against the glass, looking at her grandma. My sister only had a sweatshirt on, but refused to leave the window. She told me that nobody should have to die alone.

Through the FaceTime chat with my sister, I could see Baba periodically glance up, and gently smile at my sister.

 My sister said, “It got to the point where there were no more times she looked over. There were no more times she opened her eyes.” My sister didn’t want her grandma to wake up and see she was  alone.

The hardest thing for my family was to walk away from that window, knowing it was the last time any of us would ever see our Baba alive. I cried because I couldn’t be there physically and hold her had. I wanted to tell her one last time I love her.

Later that night, my mom had called to let me know that Baba had passed.

A burial for Baba was held two days after she passed. Only 7 people were able to attend, all practicing social distancing. It was unusual for my close-knit family not to be able to give hugs to one another during this very emotional time. For me, not being able to attend her burial was very difficult. My mom and sister called me after the burial, and we grieved together over the phone.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES, Ohio State University, Wood County

Reviewer: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Photo Credits:
Photos taken by Shannon Smith and Kristy Smith

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  2. https://mhanational.org/covid19
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/07/828317535/coronavirus-is-changing-the-rituals-of-death-for-many-religions
  4. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/09/30/healthy-brain-aging/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html
  6. https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/OHOOD/2020/04/02/file_attachments/1418062/Signed%20Amended%20Director%27s%20Stay%20At%20Home%20Order.pdf
  7. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/covid19/
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented action in regard to temporary business restriction and closure. Within the last week, Governor DeWine has ordered the closure of all dining rooms of bars and restaurants; closure of bowling alleys, movie theaters, recreation centers and similar businesses; and the closure of barbershops and nail salons.  Yesterday’s “Stay at Home” Order from Ohio Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, orders that all non-essential business and operations must cease by midnight tonight. These orders have affected tens of thousands of Ohioans. In just three days last week, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services received 77,817 claims for unemployment benefits. Compare this to two weeks ago when only 2,905 claims were filed.

If you find yourself without a job, I encourage you to visit “COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide” which has been compiled by OSU Extension. It features Individual Resources, Employee Resources, Small Business Resources, Available Ohio Food Access Options, Financial Wellness Resources & Consumer Protection, and Finding Local Resources.

University of Wisconsin Extension also has a website for “Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times” with a special section dedicated to the financial effects of COVID-19 for individuals, families and businesses. There is also a section called “Dealing with a Drop in Income” that answers questions like “Where do you start if you can’t pay bills?” and “Deciding Which Debts to Pay First.”

Another resource I especially appreciate from The University of Delaware offers advice for Surviving a Family Crisis. Losing income from a job is not inherently more manageable for an individual than a family. However, there are different challenges when multiple people are involved. The University of Maryland Extension also offers some ideas for talking with children about needs and wants.

I have been inspired this week as acquaintances, who are now without work, have shared their struggles in positive ways on social media. They’ve shared their fears and disappointments, but even more, they have shared the encouraging words and even mentioned financial help they’ve been receiving from others. It has been motivating for me to see the support that people are receiving. It has caused me to act and help others who may be facing more uncertain times than I am, even if it is in small ways.

If your job is secure, consider what you can do to financially bless a friend or acquaintance during this time. I’ve heard some great suggestions to set aside the money you might normally spend on gasoline or parking or other daily expenses and use that to make a donation in your community.If you are in a difficult place, please know that many people want to help right now. Let others know your needs, even if that is a listening ear for you to voice your concerns without judgment.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2020)  COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide. at https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/covid-19-financial-resource-guide

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Financial Resources to Help Get Through COVID-19. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/covid-19-financial-resources/

Olive, P. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. (March 2020) Dealing with a Drop in Income. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/files/2019/01/Drop-in-income-2020-state-version-new-logo.pdf

Park, E. and Nelson, P.T., Surviving A Family Crisis. (2012) (Ed) Families Matter! A Newsletter Series for Parents of School-Age Youth. Newark, DE: Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. at https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/surviving-family-crisis/

University of Maryland Extension (2013) Helping Your Child Become Money Smart. Factsheet FS-962. at   https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/publications/FS-962%20Helping%20Your%20Children%20to%20%20Become%20Money%20Smart_0.pdf

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fJTqyZMOh18

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