Managing stress, anxiety during the pandemic
Some friends and I were talking the other day about how we were all handling the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic. It turned out that each of us was experiencing it just a little differently. One wasn’t sleeping well and had nearly daily headaches. Another had a constant “lump in her throat”. Yet another has been experiencing a tightening of her chest. Finally, one has nearly constant nausea and feels the stress in her gut. All of these are the body’s way of saying we are under stress and need to pay attention!
Symptoms of stress can include:
–Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
–Changes in sleep or eating patterns
–Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
–Worsening of chronic health problems
–Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Things you can do to support yourself and your family
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Go for a walk, being mindful of staying 6 feet apart where possible.
Connect with others. Check in with family and friends. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Look for something positive to focus on such as the beauty of nature.
Keep things in perspective. “These things too shall pass.”
Pull together rather than apart. Don’t see the problem as your problem but as a challenge for your whole family.
Go with the flow to some degree. Many times we are relatively powerless in the face of a crisis. At this point it can be useful to simply tell yourself to “let it go.”
Know how to laugh and how to cry, for both are essential to maintain a healthy emotional balance.
Embrace spiritually and your faith community as a means of support. Even though many are not gathering face-to-face, there are many services available via social media and television.
Get help outside the nuclear family when needed. Seek help from extended family members, supportive friends, neighbors, colleagues, professionals in the community, or others.
Try to keep up with regular routines. With schools closed and adults working from home, create a schedule for learning/work activities and relaxing or fun activities.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Sources: CDC, University of Nebraska Extension’s Creating a Strong Family: Effective Management of Stress and Crisis (G1886).