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COVID-19 Resources for the Public

COVID-19 Resources for SBCPA Members

Coping Through the Coronavirus Crisis:

Like all healthcare professionals, members of the Santa Barbara County Psychological Association have been continuing to provide services to their clients and the community during this unprecedented time of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  This has been a strange and worrying time for everyone, which has impacted every aspect of our lives, including our mental health.  We are facing a situation with higher potential disruption and strain on all of our resources than has been seen in most of our lifetimes.  The risk is significant especially to the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, and emotional risks higher for those with anxiety or depression already.  It is normal for all of us to feel stressed, irritable, frustrated, or impatient at this time. As psychologists, though, we try to reduce unnecessary anxieties by pointing out that danger may be easily distorted in our minds, and that decisions or reactions made while feeling panicky are unlikely to be helpful, even when there is some real risk around us.  For example, it is important to keep in mind that when people follow precautions and stay at home the risk of disease drops significantly.  And finally, try to keep in mind that this is a time-limited situation and we will come out the other side. 

Of course, we know that following rules related to social distancing and hygiene are the essential “things to do” at this time for your health. In terms of mental health, there are several other things that may be of benefit to keep in mind and practice on a daily basis.  Remember that we get a chance to practice our best selves at this time, by being flexible, compassionate, and creative.  Several things to keep in mind include the following:

  • Remember that both mental and physical wellness are based on staying healthy.  Make a commitment to daily exercise and eating a healthy diet, even when you are bored, anxious, or unable to have your typical routine (e.g., going to a gym).   
  • One benefit of being in this area is that we can continue to spend time in nature/outdoors year-round, and that we can still do this despite the virus!  Getting sunshine, fresh air, and interacting with nature through hikes or beach walks are likely to enhance well-being and improve both emotional and immune system health.
  • Practice meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness activities. 
  • Try to limit exposure to news throughout the day, and only engage in reliable news sources that focus on facts and not opinion. 
  • Consider other activities or practices you’ve wanted to do in the past but haven’t had time for.  This mayde learning something new online, completing continuing education or training for work, or developing skills in the arts, music, or writing.
  • Communicate with loved ones often by any means you can beyond email/texting (including telephone, facetime, skype/zoom).  Seek out anyone you know with wisdom and experience to help give perspective. This will help lower stress and help with coping. 
  • Assess your finances, take appropriate steps to plan for gaps in income, and try to remain flexible in ideas and planning. 
  • For children and teens, concerns related to the virus should be communicated in an age appropriate fashion.  This means not “flooding” someone with fears or worst predictions, but also answering questions honestly and explaining reasons why everyone is being asked to make changes/sacrifices in their lifestyle.  It may be challenging to keep kids busy at this time, but also help them realize there is potential for bonding with siblings and spending time at home.  Finally, all parents should be aware that their children may have signs of stress, such as irritability, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite or energy level, and to seek advice regarding these situations and take action/consult with a professional if necessary. 

Many resources are available to help you through this complex time including:

American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/pandemics

The Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Santa Barbara County Community Wellness Team: https://sbccwt.org/  or

https://readysbc.org/health-safety/community-wellness-team/  (made up of several agencies and groups, including the county psychological association)

Santa Barbara County Psychological Association: (http://sbcpa.org/)Includes further resources and a list of practicing psychologists, many of whom are doing remote/telehealth sessions. 

    Disaster Preparedness

    During this time of year in California the possibility of wildfires is in the forefront of people’s minds. Many may feel anxious as they watch wildfires in other parts of the state and worry about a potential of a natural disaster in our own community. These concerns may be coupled with reminders of past experiences related to wildfires or other emergencies that can be very triggering.

    While thinking about a potential emergency can breed anxiety and potentially feelings of helplessness, it is important to focus on the elements that you can exert control over.  Focusing your attention on emergency preparedness is an action you can direct. While it may initially cause some worry to think about potential disasters, your overall anxiety will likely decrease, if you feel you are becoming better prepared for an emergency.

    Emergency preparedness includes organizing or checking an emergency kit, developing an emergency evacuation plan, stocking the home with items that can be used in an emergency, and clarifying how the needs of babies, the elderly, those with special needs, or pets will be impacted by an emergency or planned electrical outage. In addition, preparedness means acquainting yourself with the local and state resources needed to gather information about a fire, earthquake, flood, or planned electrical outage on an ongoing basis. 

    A list of resources related to emergency preparedness can be found here. This list will help jumpstart your planning or can be used to supplement a plan you have already developed. The link contains specific resources related to the impact of emergencies on special populations, such as children.

    In addition to utilizing resources aimed at preparation and response to an emergency, you can consider working with a psychologist that is a member of the Santa Barbara County Psychological Association to obtain additional support. The Find a Psychologist feature on the sbcpa.org website allows you to search for psychologists that meet certain criteria that you select, such as areas of focus, location, and insurance panel participation. This feature can be accessed here.

    We  invite you to search for a Psychologist on our Search Engine, which gives you access to our more than 120 Licensed Psychologist Members.

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