Psychologist provides strategies to cope with COVID-19

Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:52:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The coronavirus outbreak is filling many with fear, anxiety and depression.

To cope with these feelings, 10News spoke with licensed psychologist Dr. Michelle Carcel on strategies to get through the chaos.

"Evolutionarily we are not built for quick adaptation." Carcel said, that's why the reptilian part of our brain is freaking out. "One of my favorite sayings, it's not mine but I use it all the time, is relax nothing is in our control."

READ RELATED: San Diego County libraries go digital to fight spread of coronavirus

Carcel said mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation bring you into the moment and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, to calm the brain.

Her first piece of advice for coping with all these changes to your daily life is to set a schedule. A schedule for you and any kids will bring back a sense of normalcy, and comfort.

If you're feeling down, or isolated, find a furry friend. Adoptions and fostering is up in San Diego.

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"Take time to walk your dog, play with your cat. They relieve stress quite a bit, so that's good," Carcel said smiling.

Checking on a friend during this time of isolation is also important.

"That is actually one of the worst times for folks who are specifically suffering from domestic violence concerns. We must take this incredibly seriously," Carcel added.

She urges anyone who needs help to call the Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.

Another serious issue we're facing is financial stress, many losing their job from the shut down.

Carcel says while these are unprecedented times, we will endure, "here's the thing, humans are resilient. We have made it through a bunch of different, terrible things in our evolutionary process and we must remember that."

She advises enjoying the time we have inside, by indulging in a book, playing a board game, or calling someone you love.

"Just surf the wave, we're going to make it through," she said.

OPTUM has a free 24/7 helpline for anyone who needs emotional support, you can call 866-342-6892.