The “brutal facts” of our current reality can cause stress. A barrage of COVID-19 information can be difficult to assimilate or prioritize when it is most needed to help manage uncertainty and reduce stress. Here is a curated list of resources.
Stockdale’s Paradox during a pandemic
The Stockdale Paradox, the persistent belief in a positive outcome while accepting a crisis reality as it actually exists, can be a guiding template for positive coping in this stressful situation of global illness.
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”Admiral James Stockdale
Stress and the COVID-19 experience
- Change = stress
- Altered daily routine = stress
- Uncertainty = stress
- Pandemic = stress
- Isolation = stress
- Scarcity = stress
- Fear of illness or death = stress
There is no question that people are facing multiple stressors right now. The question is, how to best deal with it and promote metabolic health?
What helps reduce stress?
Stress busters are two-fold:
- Information, the “brutal facts” Admiral Stockdale refers to. Information helps us come to terms with the reality of the situation, and from there formulate positive action.
- Support and self-care, which help fortify faith in our capacity to withstand and grow as a result of this Covid-19 crisis.
Information to help COVID-19 stress
Here is a curated list of whom I follow across various media for valid COVID-19 information. This list was curated by vetting for credibility and an absence of political overshadowing. It’s divided into two categories, primary sources and transducers of information.
Primary sources are those who are on the cutting edge of research, practice, and policy. Transducers are those who can take this primary information and package it into consumable bites for the public.
COVID-19 primary resources
- @Laurie_Garrett – Pulitzer Prize winning science journalist. Former senior fellow Council on Foreign Relations.
- @DavidrLiu MD – Harvard professor. Integrates chemistry & evolution to illuminate biology and enable new therapeutics.
- @Craig_A_Spencer – MD. Masters in Public Health. Director Global Health in Emergency Medicine Columbia University.
- @Neil_Ferguson – Infectious disease modeller/epidemiologist. Director of J-IDEA and the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis.
- @Florian_Krammer – Professor Microbiology Icahn School of Medicine. Virus and vaccine specialist.
- @PulmCrit – Josh Farkas, MD Intensive care physician.
- @T_Inglesby – Tom Inglesby. Director Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
- @PSampathkumarMD – Priya Sampathkumar. MD Chair, Infection Control Mayo Clinic.
- @AdamJKucharski – Mathematician/epidemiologist. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- @PeterHotez – Peter Hotes, MD, PhD Vaccine Scientist. Professor Baylor School of Medicine.
Online sources of COIV-19 information
Transducers of COVID-19 information
Support and self-care
Maintaining positive mental health and outlook are essential to the Stockdale Paradox. Support can come from friends, family, and mental health professionals. It can also be found online.
Information packaged in a reassuring but fact-based manner is another form of stress relieving support. Here are some resources:
Protecting your family from COVID-19. by Dr. David Price, pulmonologist at Weill-Cornell Medicine. Why is this video worth watching?
There is plenty of speculation and unfounded information floating around the media and many people aren’t sure what to believe. As someone on the front lines Dr. Price provides actionable advice to protect yourself and your family. He does this without provoking panic. Empowering yourself can help alleviate some of the fear around COVID-19.”Dr. Kristin Baier
- Advancing Psychiatry at PsychologyToday.com by Chris Palmer, MD. This is a three part series on coping with COVID-19. Chris Palmer, MD, Harvard psychiatrist says, “Don’t waste these difficult days” of physical distancing. Use them to reflect, learn, and grow. He notes that finding your purpose and meaning is one key to coping.
- The National Alliance on Mental illness has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 guide. It addresses a variety of topics from loneliness to smoking, from working from home to anxiety. It is information packed.
- The Child Mind Institute supports families with information and twice daily Facebook video chats with mental health professionals.
- American Psychological Association Pandemics – General Resources APA
- Caroline Bologna, How To Care For Your Kids’ Mental Health During The COVID-19 Pandemic – Experts share ways parents can help their kids cope with social distancing, Huffington Post, 31.3.2020
- Me! I’m NurseChristie on Instagram, and I curate practical tips for health and self-care. I like to say, “I’m not an epidemiologist, but I know how to wash my hands.” My tidbits are intended to provide motivation to make the small changes that enhance coping.
- Ana, PsychologyAndLove on Instagram, posts helpful information on mental health, self-care and mindfulness.
Our fellow volunteer, Mani, a retired submarine commander, suggests the following actions to optimize your experience of this time and I documented them with some resources that may interest you:
- Breathing (Andrew Weil, MD teaches us a relaxing breathing exercise, the 4-7-8 breathing technique)
- Walking/Running (research shows exercise to be an effective antidepressant, read this overview article, Prescribing exercise for depression)
- Fresh air (Florence Nightingale had it right, fresh air is beneficial, see what the University of Virginia School of Nursing has to say about it.)
- Improving posture (Good posture enhances health.)
- Stretching/yoga (Yoga is a well studied way to relieve stress, see what the Mayo clinic has to say about it.)
- Going outside and getting sunshine (Here’s a study that describes the benefits of outdoor time on activity level and sleep, being outside benefits them both!)
- Massage (Here’s the Mayo clinic again, this time explaining the benefits of massage for stress.)
- Napping (Here’s an explanation of napping’s many benefits from stress relief to mood elevation.)
- Cuddling and touch (Touch provides with support, stress relief, and even immune system fortification.)
- Gardening (Is a productive form of stress relief that combines physical activity, mindfulness, and outdoor time.)
Facing the cruel reality and simultaneously having an unshakable faith in a positive outcome is a mindset given to us by the Stockdale Paradox. A mindset that is a useful guide for our experience with COVID-19 and it’s societal impacts. Face the facts, fortify yourself, and move toward triumph.
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