If you’re find that managing COVID19 stress is becoming more and more difficult, you are not alone. Many people are feeling anxious due to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19) and the toll it’s taking on individuals, the country, and the world. It is a confusing and surreal time. Normalcy was upended seemingly overnight and everything is changing rapidly. The uncertainty surrounding the situation can feel overwhelming. In the wake of these past few weeks and in anticipation of changes to come, it is crucial to manage your stress levels and tend to your well-being. That includes your mental health! Here are some ways to better manage your stress.
Stay Informed through Reliable Sources.
In an era where the news is available every moment of the day and social media is perpetuating both facts and myths, it can be confusing to know what to believe. Finding a single, reliable source and limiting your daily media intake is key to quelling panic. Use your best judgement to find a source that is neither sugarcoating the situation nor catastrophizing it. Looking up your local health department is a great place to start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also provide up-to-date information. Knowing what is going on and how to most effectively deal with it can leave you feeling empowered and hopeful instead of anxious and overwhelmed.
Keep in Mind That Which You Can Control.
While the situation remains tenuous and uncertain, there are things within your control. Keep in mind what you can do to help- even if it’s only in small ways. The CDC recommends avoiding touching your face, sanitizing frequently touched objects, and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water. Pay attention to the situation as it unfolds and prepare yourself with a plan of action. Being ready means taking the necessary precautions. This might include buying extra non-perishable groceries or refilling a prescription early. Practicing gratitude can also aid in relieving anxiety. Recognize small things throughout the day that you are grateful for and write them down. A good cup of coffee, a new episode of your favorite podcast or a meaningful chat with a good friend can bring moments of joy that you’ll appreciate. Much of the situation is out of our control, so remember what you can do to keep yourself calm and healthy.
Implement Healthy Habits.
Stress can weaken the immune system. If you don’t already have stress-relieving or stress-management habits, find some that work for you. Deep breathing exercises and stretching, finding a quiet place to take a break, or trying guided meditations can all be helpful coping methods. Alternatively, exercise and fresh air is always beneficial to your mental health. Go for a walk or run outside, find a yoga video on YouTube or try other at-home exercises. Getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing can clear your head and relieve stress. Eat healthy well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water. Taking care of your brain includes taking care of your body. You need both to be healthy when it comes to managing COVID19 stress.
Be Social (…at a Distance).
Quarantine can feel isolating and scary, but fortunately we are living in an era where we can still connect with our friends and loved ones digitally. Text your friends, make time for video calls and reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. We are all in this together! Checking in with others helps everyone. However, if talking too much about Coronavirus and the impacts thereof increases your anxiety, set boundaries during these conversations and talk about something else. Additionally, you should consider limiting your time on social media. While it can be comforting to see how your friends and loved ones are doing during these tough times, social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter can also show you unwanted news that induces stress rather than reducing it. Cut-down on your scrolling time. If you’re not ready to delete the apps just yet, try turning off their push notifications.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of your mental health enables you to take care of yourself and your loved ones. These are scary and uncertain times, but you are not alone in how you’re feeling. Find healthy ways to cope with the stress. Be patient with yourself and trust that you will find ways to adapt and manage COVID19 stress during these changing times.