Widespread public health issues like COVID-19 induce a lot of stress and anxiety. With constantly-changing information, job losses, quarantines, and of course the fear of you or your loved ones getting sick, stress and anxiety seem to be part of the "new norm" right now.
Let's face it – we're dealing with a very stressful situation. But finding ways to cope will help make you stronger and keep you healthier overall. Chronic stress and anxiety can negatively impact your heart health, ability to sleep, immune system, happiness and productivity.
Here are some tips to help manage stress and anxiety during this difficult time:
- Arm yourself with facts. There's tons of information out there about COVID-19, but not all of it is accurate. Get the facts from reputable sources such as the CDC and avoid misleading stories that only add to your anxiety.
- Avoid news overload. It's okay to stay informed, but it's also a good idea to tune out once in a while. Take breaks from TV, social media or other forms of pandemic news.
- Connect with others. You may be feeling isolated right now, but that doesn't mean you have to feel disconnected. Call or FaceTime family and friends. Write letters the old-fashioned way. Talk with people you trust about your concerns.
- Focus on what you can do. There's a lot that's out of your control right now. But instead of worrying about that, focus on what you can do to keep you and your family safer. Stay home. Wash your hands. Keep your body healthy by eating well, exercising and sleeping enough.
- Take a walk. Any type of exercise helps relieve stress. You may not be able to go to the gym right now but take a walk or do a home workout to clear your head.
- Organize. Sometimes all it takes to help you relax is to feel like you have things under control. So spend a few minutes organizing closets, your desk or just about anything.
- Find activities you enjoy. Now is the time to turn to activities you've wanted to do but don't usually have time for. Read, paint, do a jigsaw puzzle or sort through old photos.
- Breathe. Take some time to focus on your breathing. Take slow deep breaths to help you relax. Slowly count to 10 and back. Meditate.
- Practice progressive relaxation. Tense and then relax one part of your body at a time. Start with your feet and legs and then work your way up your body.
If these tips don't work to calm your anxiety, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional. Many are offering virtual sessions at this time.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 24, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor