Make self-care a priority

May 18, 2020

Making self-care a priority can help you cope with unsettling emotions you may be feeling in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Emotional reactions to the COVID-19 crisis can range from fear and hopelessness to denial and anger. You may even feel all these emotions over the course of one day. Prioritizing your own self-care can help you cope with any unsettling emotions you may be experiencing. Self-care means choosing to act in healthy ways rather than simply reacting to events.

Here are some self-care strategies you may find helpful, from Cigna, the administrator of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)* provided by the Board of Pensions.

Physical coping strategies

  • Get enough sleep to feel rested. A key ingredient of self-care, sleep affects both mood and energy level. Establish a routine and get to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Get moving. Physical activity can help reduce feelings of stress and tension. It can also help you sleep better if it’s done at least several hours before bedtime. (Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.)
  • Eat well-balanced meals at regular times of the day.
  • Do something calming and relaxing. Deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness activities can help relieve stress. But simply doing something you enjoy can also help ease tension.
  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs to help you cope. (Take any medication ordered by your doctor only as prescribed.)

Mental coping strategies

  • Concentrate on the here and now instead of worrying about what could happen. Focus on the needs of your loved ones, activities you enjoy, and practical things you need to do.
  • Structure your time. Large blocks of unstructured time will tempt your thoughts to center around what troubles you most.
  • Remind yourself of your abilities and strengths. Self-statements such as “I can handle this uncertainty,” help reinforce the fact that you’re steering your own ship.
  • Set short-term goals, such as what you want to get done in the next hour or day. Focusing on what you accomplish can help you feel more in control.

Emotional coping strategies

  • Reach out to people who care and express your feelings and fears. Talk about your thoughts and worries with loved ones.
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy with friends and family. (Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines from authorities where you live.)
  • Have realistic expectations for yourself. There are many unknowns in this situation, and you won’t have all the answers. Nor can you control every outcome. Give yourself a break and recognize you’re doing the best you can.

For your support

If you are still struggling with unsettling emotions and would like to talk to someone about what you’re feeling, you have 24/7 access to licensed clinicians through the EAP.* Just call 866-640-2772 and ask to speak with a clinician, or log on to Cigna’s website to schedule a call (one-time registration is required; use pcusa for Employee’s Employer ID).

In addition to phone consultations, the EAP provides in-person or virtual counseling sessions with a dedicated counselor. Through September 30, 2020, you can take advantage of four additional sessions for a total of 10 sessions per issue. There’s no cost to you, and all EAP services are completely confidential. Your family members and anyone who lives with you can use the EAP, too.

During this time of high stress and anxiety, employees who are not eligible for the EAP and retired members can call Cigna’s Behavioral Resource Line at 866-912-1687 to connect with qualified clinicians.

If you have medical coverage through the Board, you can also participate in many activities that encourage self-care through Call to Health.*

*The EAP and Call to Health are not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.