Staying Safe: The Basics

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the globe and we adjust our daily lives accordingly, it’s not surprising that many of us may be experiencing greater levels of stress and anxiety.  During this stressful time, we’d like to share some tips to help you and your family stay well, as well as remind you that resources are available if you need assistance and guidance in coping with this situation. Thank you to the American Psychological Association for suggestion from their webpage Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe.

Protect Yourself and Those Around You.

In order to stay healthy and prevent exposure and spread, it’s important to follow the CDC guidelines for protecting yourself.  This includes:

  • Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid close contact with others and large groups by practicing social distancing
  • Frequently clean surfaces that you touch regularly to decrease germs
  • Cover coughs and sneezes by coughing into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hands, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick. If you aren’t feeling well yourself, stay home and contact your primary care physician
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth

Limit news consumption.

Too much exposure to the media coverage about COVID-19 can add to already elevated levels of anxiety and fear.  Seeking updates throughout the day repeatedly triggers a stress response leading to high levels of nervous system arousal.  It’s best to limit the times of day as well as the total amount of time spent on news.  And stick to reliable sources such as the BU COVID-19 Information page, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, avoiding the rumors and misinformation spread via social media.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The basics of self-care are more important now than ever.  Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, engaging in physical exercise and making time for relaxing and enjoyable activities are fundamental to psychological resilience. They have the added benefit of boosting the immune system.  Our present state of crisis is likely to continue for some time.  To avoid becoming depleted, it’s essential that we continue those lifestyle habits that fuel and refresh us.

Check out FitRec’s How to Keep Moving Wherever You Are.

FitRec will update this page frequently with new ideas to help you keep your body moving wherever you are.

Take Advantage of Recent Health Plan Changes.

If you’re a member of one of the University health plans, the University has implemented changes such as Telehealth and early refills for prescriptions with existing refills.  Please take advantage of these recent changes to help you and your family stay healthy during this difficult time.  Learn more here.

Use Positive Psychology Tools to Strengthen Resilience.

Coping strategies that elicit positive emotions help us withstand and bounce back from adversity.   Intentionally turning towards sources of hope, optimism and meaning and resisting the pull of catastrophic, worst case scenario thinking will help balance out your worries and frustrations.  Keep a gratitude journal and focus on compassion for yourself and others during this difficult time.  As you struggle with the painful dictates of social distancing, remember that this is an act of generosity toward your fellow humans.  Acts of altruism boost wellbeing, so as you help others, you also help yourself.

Stay Virtually Connected with Others.

Healthy social connections are critical to maintaining resilience.  Cut off from our usual means of socializing by the imperatives of social distancing, we’re at risk for feeling isolated and lonely.  Use text messages, phone calls, social media and video chats to stay in regular communication with friends, family members and colleagues. Be creative in finding ways to socialize, for example by sharing meals with others via video chat.

Seek Emotional Support if Needed.

If you’re struggling and would like some emotional support and guidance in coping with this crisis, please reach out to the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office. Their licensed behavioral health providers, Karen Brouhard and Sarah Henderson, can speak with you via an encrypted, HIPAA compliant, Zoom platform.  Their consultation and counseling services are free of charge, confidential and available to all BU faculty and staff and their immediate family members.  They can be reached via their website, or at 617-353-5381.

Additional Resources

The Faculty & Staff Assistance Office will be regularly adding articles, videos and resources on cultivating resilience and coping with this crisis to their twitter feed, #BUFSAO.


From the BU Employee Wellness newsletter 3/20/2020