Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Psychological Self-Care (For Women)

(Content revised 03/2022)

The coronavirus outbreak has been going on for some time, have you ever had the following thoughts?

  • It's so tiring to scramble around for days to stock up on different anti-epidemic supplies and medicine!
  • My husband has to deal with many people at work every day, I'm afraid he would be infected!
  • The elderly home is so crowded and my father has diabetes. I'm really worried!
  • There are so many confirmed cases around the area where my eldest daughter lives. What should I do?
  • I can't sleep at night.  When will the pandemic be over?
  • My sister has been on unpaid leave for some time, will she be fired?
  • During school suspension, my son keeps playing video games only.  He got mad when I reminded him to do revision, won't you be angry?
  • I'm so exhausted without anyone helping with the cleaning!
  • It's very boring to watch TV day and night!

The ongoing pandemic has affected us to varying degrees.  How can women be more resilient to cope with such difficult situation, to reduce its possible impacts on sleep, mood or family relationships?  Why not take a look at the following psychological tips to boost your psychological immunity!

Tip 1: Caution to Overwhelming Information

There are just too many updates related to the outbreak. To "fact-check" the information carefully and to pay attention to the source of the information could help you avoid being misled. Also, to protect yourself from being emotionally overwhelmed, you could turn off your device in a timely manner. Information provided by the Centre for Health Protection on the latest local situation of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is your reliable choice.

Tip 2: Realistic & Flexible in Thoughts

As the pandemic continues, it is inevitable to have more contemplation and consideration. However, do you unconsciously drift into a series of negative thoughts? And become more and more anxious? For example, " If someone in our building is tested positive (for COVID-19), my family will definitely get infected! My husband would not be able to go to work, we would then have no income for food and rent. What should we do?" Rather than thinking in extreme and absolute ways, you may try to think in reasonable and flexible manner, such as, "We actually are not infected now, let's play it by ear!"

Tip 3: Visual Reminders for Encouraging Change

It is by no means easy to change a lot of personal hygiene and daily habits all of a sudden for fighting the outbreak. Even if you fail to adhere to every preventive measure, you might as well appreciate the small changes that you or your family have made. Consider using visual reminders to help yourself or your family develop good hygiene habits in a humorous but supportive way.

Tip 4: Resolving Conflicts by Focusing on Common Goal

Your views on how the pandemic develops and the way to cope may be different from that of your family's. To resolve conflicts effectively, adjust your mindset before the discussion – see as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of each other and be prepared to compromise. In the discussion, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and make an educated guess on his/ her concerns. After reflecting on his/ her possible concerns, express your perspective at last. For example, "I guess you wanted to go out with our grandson because you don't want him to feel bored at home, right? To me, going out may have a higher risk of being infected. We both just love our grandson!” Understand the intentions of both parties, identify common goals, and then invite the other party to discuss what is best and feasible, such as "We all want to be safe and happy, what do you think can be done?”

Tip 5: Accept Your Emotions

No matter ignoring, blaming or indulging, is not adaptive coping strategy for facing various emotional reactions, such as worry, helplessness, depressed, anger, etc.  In contrast, accepting emotions helps settle the distressing mood.  You may name your emotions, such as “I'm irritable!”, “It's natural to worry!”  After that, take time to rest (see the relaxation exercise below) before thinking of practical ways to cope with the difficulty.

When you are worried or notice that you become particularly nervous, focus on thinking practical coping strategies. If you find it hard to let go of your worry or if there is no immediate solution available, try an effective way to reduce your worry – plan a specific time to worry in as much as you like (such as 15-30 minutes after lunch); when you are worrying outside of that specific time, just briefly record your worries, leave them for the specific worry time and then try to refocus on the present moment onto the task at hand or activities you are interested in.  Do not set the specific worry time before bedtime to avoid negative impacts on sleep quality.

Tip 6: Sleep well

If you have insomnia, for example, having difficulty in falling asleep for more than 15 minutes, you can leave the bed and relax in another place (such as a chair), e.g. listening to music or reading some leisurely books. Returning to the bed to sleep when you are sleepy. During the day, engage more in light physical activities and avoid naps, practice breathing or relaxation exercise before bed. These all can help you fall asleep. If you have persistent insomnia, you can seek professional help and do not buy over-the-counter medicines without a doctor prescription.

Suggestions for Relaxation Exercise

Seeking Professional Help

If significant and persistent distress are observed, please consult your family doctor or approach the following community resources:

Hotline / Organisation(listed in arbitrary order) Contact Service Hours
Social Welfare Department Hotline:2343 2255

2020 Psycho-education information Hub for Combatting the Novel Coronavirus

24 hours
Hospital Authority Mental Health Direct (hotline): 2466 7350 24 hours
Hong Kong Red Cross "Shall We Talk" Psychological Support Service: 5164 5040
Make appointment via WhatsApp