The Washington State Employee Assistance Program is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register today for these upcoming live webinars:
*New* Couples: Managing Your Way through COVID-19 (live)
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the May 2020 Washington State Employee Assistance Program Newsletter
In addition to fear and anxiety, COVID-19 is causing many to struggle with feelings of disappointment. Whether it is a cancelled celebration or a postponed vacation, If not managed in a healthy way, disappointment can lead to lingering feelings of sadness and even depression. Here are four positive steps to help work through feelings of disappointment.
1) Give yourself permission to be disappointed. Adults are often so uncomfortable with negative emotions that there is a tendency to try to rush past them. However, if you allow yourself to experience the disappointment, as well as any other feelings you’re experiencing such as sadness and anger, you stand a better chance of being able to process your feelings in a healthy way. Genuinely experiencing emotions, no matter how painful, is part of the human experience. As you learn how to move through negative emotions rather than circumventing them, you help strengthen your personal resilience.
2) Find support. There is an old Yiddish saying, “Man plans, and God laughs.” As you know, the unexpected can suddenly pull the rug out from under cherished plans. Maybe you also know that when you share your disappointment with someone you trust, you will find support. Talking about disappointment can help release some of its fuel. In addition, the person you share with can offer comfort and may help you gain additional perspective.
3) Identify what you value. Disappointment reveals what really matters. If you are dejected because your child’s graduation ceremony was cancelled due to coronavirus, what does that reveal about what you care about? Is it a reflection of how proud you are of them or how eager you were to celebrate their achievement? Or, did you view their graduation as your graduation as well? Digging deeper and understanding what is at the root of your disappointment can be a very healthy exercise. From there you can move on to other ways to honor what you value.
4) Channel your disappointment. Once you uncover what you value, you can channel the energy of your disappointment to positive actions honoring that value. For the cancelled graduation, as an example, perhaps that means offering to spearhead a virtual graduation ceremony or creating a video with personal messages of congratulations.
While you do not have the power to change things outside of your control, you are able to control how you respond. If you are dealing with a COVID-19 related disappointment, know that you are not alone and, there is the possibility of understanding, learning from and growing through disappointment. If you’d like support to dig deeper and better understand your feelings, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to the EAP for support, at 877-313-4455
Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on the Washington State Department of Corrections’ intranet.
The holidays are in full swing. That means extra guests, menu planning, events and managing budgets. Here are some tips on how to manage stress during the festivities.
Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress
Make Your Well Being a PriorityIf you don’t take care of yourself no one else will. And if you wish to care for others remember, just like on an airplane, be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.
Identify Your Stressors We all have particular family members or events that press our buttons, it is important that you know what they are. Identifying the problem is the first step to solving one.
Plan ProactivelyNow that you’ve identified your stressors, how can you handle those situations differently? How can you change your attitude toward those people and events to make things tolerable and even meaningful to you?
Get Adequate RestPut down the phone and tablet 30 minutes before you go to bed. Create a schedule that allows for the sleep you need and stick to it. The Walking Dead isn’t just a TV show.
Maintain Healthy Eating HabitsDon’t eat your feelings. Fuel your body, live your life and reflect on your feelings. Practice portion control and eat and drink in moderation. Experiment with mindful eating, using the senses in each bite and slowly savoring the flavors and moment.
Maintain Healthy Exercise HabitsWas there ever a better time to begin practicing some healthy stress management? Exercise can help you manage a stressful situation, give you a sense of accomplishment, and give you a pleasant endorphin rush! Remember that exercise comes in many forms, going to the gym, running, walking, actively playing with your pets or kids, dancing, climbing walls, video workouts of all sorts…Anything that gets your blood pumping.
Practice GratitudeThe holidays are a great time to reflect on the blessings in your lives. Try thinking about a time in the last month when you had a genuine moment of connection with another person, an animal or in nature. Reflect on that experience. What in this experience are you grateful for?
Connect Meaningfully with OthersUse the holidays as an opportunity to intentionally spend time with people you care about. The holidays also present several opportunities to volunteer in your community both formally and informally.
Have a Sense of HumorIt won’t all be perfect, but at least we can laugh about it! Laughter can help you manage the stress and put that stress into the perspective it deserves.
Set a schedule: Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Disrupting this schedule may lead to insomnia. “Sleeping in” on weekends also makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because it resets your sleep cycles for a later awakening.
Exercise: Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about 5 to 6 hours before going to bed.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and keeps people awake. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep.
Relax before bed: A warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall sleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual. Sleep until sunlight: If possible, wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.
Don’t lie in bed awake: If you can’t get to sleep, don’t just lie in bed. Do something else, like reading, watching television, or listening to music, until you feel tired. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.
Control your room temperature: Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom. Extreme temperatures may disrupt sleep or prevent you from falling asleep.
See a doctor if the sleeping problem continues: If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, then you may have a sleep disorder and should see a physician. Your primary care physician may be able to help you; if not, you can probably find a sleep specialist at a major hospital.