If you feel stressed about coronavirus, you're not alone. Coronavirus
(COVID-19) has had ripple effects into almost every aspect of our lives. With
schools and workplaces closed for now, it's affected the way we live every day. So
much has changed in such a short time.
It's natural to feel anxiety
when we face a crisis, the unknown, or sudden change. It's a normal reaction to feel
the need for safety, certainty, predictability, and control.
Anxiety is a normal emotion and serves as a signal to pay attention so we can protect
ourselves. Anxiety alerts us. It prompts us to adapt. But when we're overwhelmed by
anxiety, it sometimes can do more harm than good.
When anxiety becomes overwhelming, we're less able to rise to a challenge, and
sometimes we get stuck.
Here are some tips that can help you cope with anxiety and give you a sense of
control even during an uncertain time. Many are simple techniques with proven benefits.
Follow the advice of experts. First, know what to do to avoid
the spread of germs.
This not only helps keep you safer, it gives you and your kids a sense of control!
Follow the expert guidelines for health and safety. Wash
your hands well and often. Keep surfaces clean. Stay at home. Keep a safe
distance from others. When you do these things, you protect yourself, your family,
and your community.
Notice, label, and accept your emotions. When you feel anxious,
quietly say to yourself, "OK, there's my anxiety again." Just putting a label on what
we feel helps reduce our concern.
Accept anxiety as one of your many emotions. Don't ignore it,
fight it, reject it, or be afraid of it. Don't judge yourself for feeling it. Be kind.
Give yourself permission to be human.
Keep it in perspective and notice the good. Don't let anxiety
run the show. It's one part of your emotional life, but it's not the whole thing.
Leave room to challenge yourself: Is there anything going well? What positive things
have happened that make me think this anxious thought might not be accurate?
Direct your attention or practice mindfulness. When you notice
anxious thoughts, know that you don't have to dwell on them. Direct your attention
to things that help you feel calm. You can use techniques such as guided imagery (easily
found on YouTube or Google Video) or mindfulness practices that help you focus on
being in the moment.
Practice breathing. Just pausing to take a breath can calm you
in a difficult moment. It can help you pause before you react, and choose how to react.
Specifically, "belly breathing" or diaphragmatic breathing is most helpful. Practice
for 5–10 minutes a day. Try an app like "Belly Bio" that is free to download.
Reach out to others. Staying in touch with friends and family
is good for you and for them. Feeling close to others reduces anxiety, and has been
known to boost the immune system.
Even though we're staying home, we can reach out by phone, video chat, or social media.
We can feel close, even while we're apart. Practice physical distancing, but social
Practice gratitude. Noticing what we're grateful for is a powerful
remedy to anxiety. Showing gratitude is another way to feel close to others. It benefits
your mood and your health. Say a simple heartfelt thank-you. Make a list of what you're
grateful for. Send a letter to someone who's helped you. Let loved ones know how much
they mean to you.
Be awed by nature. Even 5 minutes spent appreciating nature can
lower anxiety and blood pressure. It raises emotional well-being. It reminds us we
are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Be active. Even though we are staying at home, find ways to be
active every day. There
are plenty of ways to be active outdoors and still practice social distancing. Exercise
relaxes you. It generates hormones that boost the body's immune system. If you can't
get out, take a fitness class online.
Keep your balance. Calming anxiety doesn't mean ignoring problems.
It's about finding our balance so we can cope well; so we can help ourselves and each
other though this situation. We can find calm and well-being even when we face great
Know when to reach out for help. If your anxiety seems overwhelming
— if you're having trouble sleeping, eating, or interacting in the ways you
normally would — get help. Most behavioral health providers are offering telehealth visits during this
time and can schedule with new patients. Don't be afraid to reach out for help during
this stressful time!