If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. If you are experiencing an increase in stress and anxiety right now, you are not alone. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.
Signs of Stress and Anxiety and 6 Ways to Cope
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most people will exhibit some of the following signs:
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
- Feeling more emotional than usual
- Difficulty controlling impulses
- Lashing out/emotional outbursts
If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:
1. Limit Media Consumption
Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive. Social media is not your best resource for facts. Go to your local government’s DHHS website for up to date local information. Knowing the facts may help reduce stress and anxiety.
2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit
Be sure to get outside for some fresh air. Exercise outdoors or go for a walk. Try your best to make healthy food choices and make sure to stay hydrated. Try and count how many glasses of water you are consuming everyday as a challenge. SLEEP. We all need restful sleep. Even if your schedule has been disrupted, try to go to bed around the same time and get up around the same time every day. Avoid consuming too much alcohol. It is so easy to start drinking normally than you might otherwise if you are not on a normal schedule. Try to limit how much you are drinking. Keeping your body and mind healthy is key for limiting the impact of stress and anxiety.
3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun
If you have kids or pets, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Play fetch with your dogs or take them for an adventure around the neighborhood by walking a different course than usual. Watch some of your favorite funny movies or stand up comedy shows on Netflix. Laughter really is the best medicine and keeping a sense of humor right now is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
4. Support Your Local Community
Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time because you are supporting your community in a positive way. Order takeout from your favorite local restaurant if you are able to. As an added bonus, share this meal with your family. Giving back and sharing is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
5. Be a Role Model
Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be. This can also apply to your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Spread positive energy and calmness to help others reduce stress and anxiety. We pick up on emotions from others and they can influence us.
6. Use Your Time Constructively
For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later. Set aside a few minutes to meditate, which has been proven to be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Take a morning walk, or use your extra time to find creative ways to connect with family and friends. Schedule a zoom call with your friend group. Facetime your parents or grandparents. Connecting with loved ones is an important way to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead while reducing the negative impacts of the additional stress anxiety. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via a secure online video platform, so you won’t even have to leave your home.
Modern Change offers psychotherapy for stress and anxiety in Durham, NC.
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