With every new development in the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the collective stress level in our country gets higher. Fear and anxiety about the disease is affecting everybody. Learning how to cope with this stress will help make you, your family, and your community stronger.
Recognizing Your Stress
Different people respond differently to stress, but there are common symptoms that show up when people are feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic, including:
- Fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones
- Sadness, confusion, irritability, anger, uneasiness, suicidal thoughts
- Reduced concentration, efficiency, and productivity
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Interpersonal problems, such as lies, defensiveness, communication concerns
- Tension, like headaches, jaw clenching, teeth grinding
- Body pain, including headaches, muscle spasms
- Reduced energy
- Sleeping problems, including insomnia and nightmares
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Feeling stressed because of the outbreak is a healthy, natural response. Before you can work to manage your symptoms, you have to recognize that they are related to stress. By skipping the phase of acknowledging that you are stressed, you will impede your ability to manage it.
Manage what you can, let go of what you can’t
With the increasing amount of information available about COVID-19, there is still a lot we don’t know. It’s important to learn what you can do to protect yourself and your family, but it’s also important to understand there is a lot you can’t control. Distance yourself from the myths and conspiracy theories that are being passed around, because they take away focus from the things you actually can control.
For reliable information about what you can do to protect yourself, turn to trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Know your limits
There’s no shortage of news coverage about COVID-19, but spending all day reading news can add unnecessary stress. Staying informed is important but try to set a time during the day to get caught up rather than constantly checking your phone or computer for updates.
Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and engaging in enjoyable activities help you stay psychologically and physically balanced during stressful times. Good self-care also boosts your immune system, which is especially important now. Make the most of your situation by enjoying activities, such as:
- Pick up a craft, like knitting or woodworking
- Exercise – take a walk or practice yoga.
- Clean – in addition to sterilizing, which is important now, it’s also comforting to spend time in a clean environment
- Play with your pets
- Read a book
- Watch a new series or a movie
- Call your loved ones
- Take an online class
- Listen to music
- Cook healthy meals
- Host a virtual gathering
Seek Professional Help
If your mental health is being impacted by the stress of the coronavirus, you may want to seek professional help. A licensed mental health professional can help you manage your fears while empowering you to make the best decisions for you and your family.
It’s important to note that people with preexisting mental health issues should continue with their treatment and be aware of worsening conditions.
Here for a Healthier You
Learn more about our behavioral health services available at Baptist Health.Click Here