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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
People that are feeling emotional distress related to COVID-19 can take actions to help support themselves and others.
Educating yourself about COVID-19 can help give you a sense of understanding and control in the midst of what feels like so much unknown. Check reputable websites for news and information about the virus and try to avoid too much scrolling through alarmist postings on social media sites. You can always rely on the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for accurate updates and helpful resources.
Take a break from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.
Our mind and body are connected, so taking care of your physical well-being is good for your mental health as well. Remember to keep exercising, eat a healthy diet and get a good night’s sleep. Countless gyms and yoga studios are offering free online versions of their workouts, cooking blogs have great tips on maximizing your pantry and Craig recently published tips on getting better sleep.
In times of stress and worry, try to make more time in your life for relaxation. Incorporate calm moments of deep breathing into your day, or return to relaxing hobbies like reading, baking, drawing, walking or meditation. Increased relaxation will help with your stress management.
If you aren’t already scheduling family video calls or exploring different apps for connecting with friends via video, take the time to investigate! It is amazing how much more connected you feel to people when you can actually see their faces, so making the effort to schedule video chats, even if you’ve never connected with someone via video before, can make a big difference. As we prioritize creating distance, also make it a priority to integrate “face-to-face” interactions with your community into your life.
People often carry their stress in their body, and it manifests as physical pain like a headache or a sore neck. Pay attention to those aches or pains as indications of your stress load. Dealing with a daily headache? Maybe it’s time to make more space for relaxation and physical activity to help deal with that anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As I mentioned earlier, make sure you’re bringing virtual connections with friends and family into your life. If you find that you need more support, reach out to your mental health provider or find one for the first time.
When making financial decisions practicing mindfulness keeps you in check with your emotions. Anxiety and depression lead to a disconnect with our bodies. Our heads are in the clouds, and we’re not paying attention to the sensation in our bodies. Before you are about to look at your finances or talk to your partner about them, Astle says practice being present in the room. For instance, look at your surroundings — the colors in the room, where you are sitting, and more.
There are many of us who feel the need to wash our hands frequently which can trigger anxiety-driven compulsions and obsessive behaviour. If possible, we could use this as an opportunity to practise personal self-care in a mindful, compassionate way. Take a warm shower at the end of each day before bedtime. Be present in the moment and gently massage your fingers, joints as you wash your hands. Keeping clean and hygienic doesn’t have to be a chore. Other ways of caring for ourselves include having a balanced diet, some exercise and adequate sleep. Participate in relaxing activities like deep breathing or hobbies like gardening to boost our immunity.
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