Living through the threat of a public health emergency such as COVID-19 can be extremely stressful. Dealing with the danger of COVID-19 is upsetting because it is outside the range of a typical day to day experience. You may feel anxiety or fear for yourself and your loved ones becoming exposed to the virus.
At the same time, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the constant, rapidly changing, and often conflicting information provided by the media regarding the growing danger of COVID-19. While it is critical during this time to take care of your physical health, you also need to pay attention to your emotional health.
During this time, you may experience a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and reactions. You or someone you know may experience periods of:
- Feeling stressed or overwhelmed
- Anxiety, worry, or fear
- Sadness, tearfulness, or loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
- Physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, stomach upset, low energy, or other uncomfortable sensations
- Frustration, irritability, or anger
- Feeling helpless
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Isolating or withdrawing from others, and fear of going to public spaces
Here are ways to help you ease anxiety surrounding coronavirus:
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
- 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.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.
- Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Here are some tried and true ways to relax:
- Yoga. Not a yoga person? No need to start now unless you’d like to try it. Sometimes trying new things and discovering new activities you can benefit from and enjoy can be a welcome, healthy distraction. Yoga Studio and Pocket Yoga are good apps to consider.
- Meditation. Regular meditation is very calming. Many apps teach simple forms of meditation, such as Headspace or Calm.
- Controlled breathing. One simple technique is called square breathing. Visualize your breath traveling along a square. As you follow the instructions to inhale, hold your breath, or exhale, count slowly to three on each side. Try it now. Inhale up the first side of the square. Slowly count one, two, three. Hold your breath across the top. One, two, three. Exhale down the other side of the square. One, two, three. Then hold your breath across the bottom. One, two, three. After a few minutes of this, you should be feeling calmer and more centered.
Find other ways to help you relax, like reading a good book or writing in a journal. During this time it’s essential to stay in contact with your friends and loved ones. Remember, we’re all on this journey together. News about the virus will likely grow worse before it gets better. Making healthy, reasonable choices about what to do and what not to do will make a big difference in being able to stay as safe.
Do you need help now? Are you having suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis? Text IN to 741741 or Community Health Network at 317-621-5700.