Everything seems so incredibly uncertain right now, doesn’t it?
Because of the COVID-19 threat, people around the country are living with curfews, shelter-in-place advisories, and potential quarantines. Yet all you want is for your family and friends to be safe, but you’re worried that perhaps they might not be.
Or, maybe you’re stressing about diminished income as well. And now that your outside activity is restricted, the comfort of familiar faces and old routines is lost.
Under such circumstances, it is perfectly natural, if not expected, to feel tremendous stress and concern. But for your sake and that of your family’s, it is important to keep your personal level of anxiety at a manageable level.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offer these tips:
Keep the threat of COVID-19 in perspective.
According to the CDC, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low for most people. The risk is higher for older adults and people of any age who have health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease or heart disease. Epidemiologists (people who specialize in diseases) believe that social distancing, handwashing and cleaning will reduce the spread. With a fact-based outlook, you can worry less.
Learn how to care for someone with potential symptoms of COVID-19.
Know when to call the doctor if someone in your home shows worrisome symptoms. The CDC offers frequently asked questions and answers. This knowledge can give you a sense of control at a time when you may feel worried or helpless
Limit the time you spend watching news coverage.
It is important to stay up to date about the pandemic, but not flooded by information overload. The constant scanning of TV, radio, and social media only serves to raise anxiety and stress. Instead, choose a few credible news sources and tune in only at certain times of the day. Check the CDC website or call your family doctor if you have questions and need clearer information.
Researchers have found that exercise helps you to think more clearly, relieves stress, and improves mood. Take a walk. Do a video workout. Plant flowers. Any physical activity helps.
Take care of your body.
As much as possible, eat healthful snacks and well-balanced meals. Drink water to stay hydrated. Get enough sleep. Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. And do not use tobacco or illegal drugs. When you live a healthy lifestyle, you will feel better both physically and emotionally.
Set up a routine and clear the clutter.
Mental health professionals say that keeping a regular schedule — in a clean, organized home — helps lower stress and gives a sense of calm order.
Schedule time to unwind.
Pick an activity you like and engage in it daily. Read a book, watch a movie or listen to music — whatever helps you relax! Enjoy!! You are allowed to experience pleasure even during this unprecedented time.
Meditate or pray.
Remind yourself of the positive side of life. Think about your loved ones, friends and whatever else that you may be grateful for. Make a list of these personal joys and hang it on the refrigerator door or bathroom mirror where you will see it each day.
Care for your children’s mental health too.
If you have kids, talk about the COVID-19 outbreak in a way they can understand. Let them know you’re doing everything possible to stay safe. Create a schedule for learning, relaxing and fun activities. Routines help children cope during tough times too.
Connect with others.
Call, text, or video chat with a good friend or family member regularly. Talking helps to relieve anxiety. Enjoy conversation that is not related to the pandemic. Although you may be social distancing, everyone is dealing with this pandemic together. So, everyone can benefit from this type of personal interaction. Staying connected to those you love is essential.
If your anxiety becomes overwhelming and hard to manage, seek support from a healthcare provider or, perhaps, if right for you, a religious leader.
For a list of trusted mental health resources and hotlines, as well as information about free mental health assessments available, visit tanner.org/hotlinesandresources.
Visit cdc.gov/COVID19 to keep up with the latest news and recommendations regarding the virus. To find out more about what Tanner Health System is doing to address COVID19, visit tanner.org/ncov.