Tips to Relieve Anxiety and Stress During the COVID-19
Coping Strategies to overcome Anxiety and Fear surrounding the Coronavirus
Normally we’d be celebrating that Spring has finally arrived after a long winter, but this April doesn’t have the same excitement it usually does due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Fears of what will happen next have many of us anxious and stressed. This is a normal response to a crisis. But for those who already suffer from anxiety it can become overwhelming. That’s why we wanted to share some coping strategies for how to ease stress and anxiety and some resources if you think you need further help.
Anxiety.org offers these strategies to overcome anxiety and fear surrounding the Coronavirus:
- Don’t Panic
Remaining calm and proactive, taking the necessary steps to protect you and your family are how to overcome any crisis. Often it isn’t the threat of fire that kills people in a stadium it’s the panic that ensues.
- Avoid the urge to excessively watch coverage
Though it is good to be informed, watching news coverage constantly can often put our minds in a worst-case scenario spiral. News centers still want to present information in the most dramatic way possible. Anxiety.org states that “long-term psychological health and well-being are maintained when threats are processed for what they are (e.g., a public health crisis that will affect some people in severe ways compared to the millions who will be much more mildly affected).”
- Accept that there is already uncertainty in your environment
Every day we take risks. We cross the street, drive our cars, go to new places and try new foods. There is risk in all that we do but we don’t tend to pay attention to the threats that aren’t major events and newsworthy. Yes, COVID-19 is a threat but there are many other threats that could potentially harm us on a daily basis and we accept them. Even if you contract COVID-19 as of this writing the numbers of people who recover are ten times higher than those who don’t.
- Stop talking about it
Yes, COVID-19 is foremost on everyone’s minds, but according to Anxiety Canada talking about it constantly just keeps us thinking about it, which will influence our sense of threat/risk. They suggest to counteract this, don’t initiate the conversation and change the subject if it does come up and ask friends and family to not discuss the coronavirus news updates with you. It will help you feel less anxious and others too.
How to Deal with Anxiety
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers these general tips to relieve anxiety and stress:
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. Consider using essential oils such as lavender to help you relax and sleep better.
- Exercise! Not only does it boost much needed endorphins but it will help you sleep better. Consider yoga which calms the central nervous system. There are many online sources for classes you can do at home.
- Accept that you cannot control everything- do what you can to be prepared, support others and stay healthy. That’s all you can do.
- Watch a comedy- The ADAA suggests humour as a way to destress. Consider watching a funny movie or comedian on Netflix. Laughing releases feel good endorphins.
- Stay positive- Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and keep perspective.
- Talk to someone- Call a trusted friend and voice your concerns or if your anxiety is too much to handle consider engaging the help of a therapist online. Anxiety.org provides online therapist listings or for local help visit Anxiety Canada.
Other Ways to Alleviate COVID-19 Anxiety
- Distract yourself and Keep Busy
More time at home means less distraction, more time to watch the news, and more anxiety. When a child is young, we often distract them as a way to make it easier for them to transition to a new activity or do something they don’t want to do. Try doing the same for yourself. Find a way to distract yourself from all that is going on to give yourself a mental break. If you’re at home and not ill consider this a chance to do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise. Study a language, learn a new recipe, or organize your cupboards. Engage in a creative pursuit, read a book, or watch a movie but choose your entertainment wisely. Both Contagion and Pandemic (movies about you guessed it, viral outbreaks) were trending this week…this is not a distraction! Don’t add more fuel to the fire of anxiety by watching this kind of entertainment.
- Practise Safe Social
One of the key ways mental health professionals suggest to keep mentally healthy is to be social, encouraging those with anxiety to join groups and interact with others. In a time where social distancing is the new normal that can be an issue. But being socially distanced doesn’t mean you can’t be social. You don’t have to have gatherings of people to be social. Talk to a friend on the phone (remember when people did that?) or go for a walk with a friend outside (you can walk six feet apart if you’re worried). Use this time as an excuse to engage on social media as long as that doesn’t add to your anxiety and you are using it to connect, not to read all the negative stories about COVID-19.
If you’re still struggling with anxiety…
If the burden of anxiety and stress becomes too much for you to handle consider engaging the help of an online anti-anxiety therapist. There are many therapists who provide online help, skype calls, or good old-fashioned phone calls in place of in office visits. It may help to talk to someone about your fears. Putting on a brave face for children and loved ones can be exhausting. Sometimes it is good to have a sounding board, someone you can relay your worst fears to, who can help you see them in a new light.
We hope this post helps you to ease your fears and has shown you how to calm your mind from anxiety.