If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be extremely difficult when every day brings new challenges that lead to stress and anxiety. Some days, it feels downright impossible.  When not worrying about the health impacts of COVID, you are bombarded by information, misinformation, and trying to figure out how to keep yourself, your family, and your loved ones safe. Not surprisingly, the emotional, social, and the economic ramifications of COVID have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Stress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most 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

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

There is so much we don’t know about COVID and staying informed may feel like the socially responsible thing to do. However, it can be hard to maintain a balance between being informed and feeling overwhelmed by the media. If you find yourself scrolling aimlessly through your social media for hours or getting lost in the internet hyperlinks, limit your media consumption. Media is designed to draw us in and can impact how we feel about ourselves, the world, and the future. In addition, negative media or anxiety-provoking stories that can spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction. Look at the world around you and do your best to stay positive but realistic.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk to help your body alleviate tension and stress. Eat foods that make you feel good and are healthy for your body. Stay hydrated and try to get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to connect with friends and family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, so get plenty of it!

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.

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. If they see you stressed and anxious every day, then they will be stressed and anxious. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay, because it will be.

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 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.

If you find yourself becoming too stressed, anxious, or depressed during this time, please reach out. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. At Approach Therapy  we are conducting teletherapy appointments and we have therapists available during the day, evenings, and on weekends.

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SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf