Maintaining Mental + Physical Well-Being During COVID-19

With Johnson & Wales University moving classes to online and remote delivery due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, staying mentally focused, maintaining positivity and keeping connected to the campus community is more important than ever.

“I know how unsettling this has been for our JWU community since we returned from spring break,” Chancellor Mim Runey wrote in her most recent address to the JWU community. “We all want certainty and set schedules that provide structure to our daily lives; unfortunately for now and for the days ahead, we have to be flexible as we adjust to this extraordinary situation.”

The first step is to take the necessary precautions to protect your own health. “It is incredibly important that we take steps to reduce our risk of contracting the virus to avoid being responsible for transmitting it to someone who is, in fact, high risk — like elderly people or those with underlying conditions such as heart disease,” notes Samantha Rosenthal, assistant professor of health sciences at JWU’s Providence Campus. “Do your best to wash your hands, stay at home if you are sick, and avoid large crowded gatherings as if someone else’s health depends on it.” 

Rosenthal outlined some additional proactive measures to take:

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Avoid large gatherings if possible.
  • Avoid contact with people you know to be sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Wear a face mask ONLY if you are suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus
  • Limit non-essential travel on public transportation.

Creating a sense of order is equally crucial for our physical and mental well-being. Jonathan Mosko, a licensed psychologist and an associate professor of social sciences at JWU’s Providence Campus, puts the emphasis on stress reduction and staying informed as a way of reducing panic: “We should take this seriously, but we can’t let stress complicate the situation even further.”

His suggestions for for help with the (very normal) anxiety over COVID-19: 

  • Stay informed. One of the best antidotes to stress is good information. Seek out reliable, scientifically-informed sources for guidance as to what to do or not to do. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a variety of resources to help on their websites; identify some trusted sources and stick with them. At the same time, try to avoid reading coronavirus “horror stories” online, as these kinds of anecdotes (which may or may not be true) usually represent only the most rare and extreme cases.
  • Use good sense. Be on the lookout for scams and rumors. Misinformation is widespread, so don’t repeat “news” that you hear unless you can verify it with a reliable source. If it seems too outrageous to believe, or too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
  • Get and give support. Feeling a sense of social connection is crucial. Get support from (and give support to) your friends and loved ones. If you’re able to stay in contact with family, friends, and loved ones through a variety of channels, you are likely to feel less alone and less anxious. You might share the reliable information that you find with loved ones who are frightened or anxious. If you are far away, or if people are advised to self-quarantine, try connecting via video chat or phone.
  • Take back control. Having a sense of personal control, however small, usually helps. Try to think of a few, basic things that you can do to reduce your risk – some of which you are hopefully doing already, like washing your hands, staying home if you feel ill, etc. Unless you are directed by public health authorities or local officials to stay away from certain places or gatherings, try to do some things that are part of your “normal” routine.
  • Take care of yourself! Basic things that we all know we should be doing can come in handy here too. Try to get at least some exercise, try to eat healthy, and get enough sleep.
  • Step back if you must. Sometimes anxiety can be contagious, too. If you find yourself in the company of people who seem overly stressed, you might notice that it raises your anxiety level too. It’s ok to take a break and step away for a while.
  • Remember, we’re all in this together. Try to be supportive of your loved ones and of the community in general. Nobody wants to get sick, and nobody wants to be a person who gets someone else sick. Blaming people, or groups of people, is unfair, discriminatory, and does nothing to address the actual problem.

Mosko concluded, “Some anxiety in this situation is normal, and is to be expected. There are many things we do not know, and may not know for a while. Focusing on the things you can control, and the ways you can be helpful, will help you to persevere through this challenging time.”

Weekly Guided Meditation by Skype 
Did you know that the weekly stress reduction and guided meditation sessions that are facilitated by staff from Counseling Services, JWU Global, Health Education and the JWU Library are now accessible by Skype? Spring sessions run every Tuesday from 4-4:30pm. Join by phone: 401-519-5529; use the conference ID #328628141.

Additional Resources