We are living through a stressful time. This is the first time in any of our lifetimes that we are experiencing a widespread illness like the Coronavirus, and it is natural that you may be feeling a higher level of stress and anxiety than you normally do. Fear and anxiety may feel overwhelming and cause intense emotions. Some symptoms of excessive stress might include changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite and eating patterns, irritability, feeling overwhelmed or out of control, constant worry and racing thoughts. The good news is there are ways to help manage our stress and anxiety related to coping with COVID-19. Here are some practical suggestions that I hope you find helpful.
Coping with COVID-19 Anxiety and Stress
- Limit the amount of time you spend watching, reading or listening to news stories about COVID-19, even on social media. It’s ok and normal to want to stay informed, but constantly focusing on this information can be upsetting and cause elevated levels of anxiety.
- Get outside! As it is starting to warm up and the sun is out more, it can be helpful to get out of the house and get moving. You can still practice social distancing while taking a walk by yourself, with members of your household, or even the dog. It can help you to feel less isolated to see others out enjoying the weather as well and can give you a chance to connect, even if it is just a wave and a hello from 6 feet away.
- Practice taking deep breaths, stretching, meditating or even an online yoga class to release stress and tension in your body. There are many free meditation and yoga videos on you tube. Give one a try!
- Get some exercise! It’s a well-proven fact that exercise is not only good for the body but also the mind. Even though you can’t go to the gym right now, there are lots of ways to get some exercise. There are lots of free videos online, get out and take that walk or go for a run. Have a dance party at home with the kids! Not only will you get your body moving, you will have a good time too!
- Get plenty of sleep. It can be difficult to sleep when you are worried or stressed, but sleep is so important for mental health. Have good sleep hygiene: have a relaxing routine that you do every night before bed. Maybe it’s taking a bath and doing some reading or meditating. Avoid using electronic devices before bed because the blue light interrupts your circadian rhythm and suppresses the release of sleep inducing hormones, which make it harder to fall asleep. If you must be on your phone, see if you can activate night mode, which switches from blue light to warmer light and causes less disruption.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. It can be easy to slip into junk food mode, especially if you tend to eat when you are stressed. Or conversely, maybe you feel like you have little or no appetite. Eating healthy meals will help keep your body healthy and your immune system strong. Avoiding excessive sugar and caffeine can also help you fall asleep at night and keep you from feeling jittery.
- Stay connected. While we are forced to social distance right now, technology has made it easy to stay connected. Reach out to friends and family members. Have a virtual get together with friends and family on Zoom or Google Hangouts. Even if you feel uncomfortable with the technology behind video conferencing, a simple phone call can help you feel less alone.
- Spend time doing something you enjoy. Maybe it’s puzzles, maybe you like a good book or you love to binge watch Netflix. It’s important to carve out time to do things you enjoy. Please don’t feel that you have to conquer the world, or deep clean the house, or learn a new skill or whatever during this time just because you are home more. It is ok to feel overwhelmed by dealing with kids that are now at home all day, or to be exhausted by spending hours on the computer working from home, or just to feel out of sorts and unmotivated right now.
- Talk to a professional. Many therapists including those at Waterford Counseling are providing therapy via telehealth, which you can access on a laptop or even on your phone. If your anxiety or stress feels like too much to manage, reach out to your local mental health professional and set up a virtual appointment. This service is covered by most Insurance companies.
We are going through a tough time right now, but this won’t last forever. Make taking care of yourself a priority because you deserve it!
If you are struggling to cope, don’t wait. Seek help today
You don’t need to feel alone. We have a team of caring professionals who can help you get through this very difficult time. We are just a virtual telehealth call away.
Call Waterford Counseling Services at 630-898-5322.
More Information about Covid-19 can be found at:
Blog submitted by Shannon Corn, LCSW