Categories: Coronavirus

Managing Stress around Coronavirus Outbreak: How to cope with anxiety

As you watch the events around the outbreak of Coronavirus unfurl, it is not unnatural to feel increasing stress and panic.

The news keeps pouring in and the information can be overwhelming and scary. You may have anxiety and fear due to a lot of issues such as dealing with at-risk family members or patients, trying to keep kids occupied while being indoors all day, managing to get work done while at home, or simply adjusting to the new situation. As the days go by, the stress can add up and affect you both physically and mentally.

In this article, we look at a few surefire ways of managing stress around the outbreak and keeping ourselves in a positive frame of mind.

Steps to manage stress:

  1. Exercise Regularly

    1. Aerobic exercises can still be done within the walls of your home or the compound of your apartment, such as walking, running or climbing stairs. Even playing with your kids or pets can help burn off some calories.
    2. Exercising helps release endorphins within your system, which play a vital role in elevating your mood and keeping a positive attitude. Stretching exercises and yoga also help keep you fit and your mind calm. Subscribe to easy-to-follow YouTube videos or fitness and wellness websites for simple exercise regimens to do at home.
  2. Take a Break

    The constantly negative news can be a lot to handle. Decide the amount of exposure to the news that works for you. Especially if there are children involved, make sure you expose them to only age-appropriate material. Ever so often disconnect physically and mentally from anything to do with the Coronavirus coverage. Play with puzzles, read a book, reorganize or clean instead.

  3. Connect with Others

    During these times of uncertainty or fear, it is essential to connect with others. Being in isolation and all the unwarranted fear can lead to stress and depression. Reach out to family, friends, and colleagues regularly through phone calls, messages or emails. Check on those who are living by themselves and the elderly members of your family. It also helps to rationalize your fears and be informed on how they are doing.

  4. Take Adequate Rest

    Stress and anxiety created by the evolving news and information overload can be aggravated by a lack of sleep. Getting the recommended amount of sleep aids in managing stress and staying focused during the day. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine before bedtime. Having a bedtime routine is also recommended, such as taking a bath, or having a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea before you go to sleep. Planning for the next day also helps alleviate stress due to uncertainty.

  5. Maintain a Healthy Diet

    Unnecessary stress can cause you to overeat or eat unhealthy, adversely affecting your metabolism. Avoid emotional eating by identifying trigger factors and keeping away from the urge. Keep healthy snacks around you such as fruit bowls, nuts or even granola bars. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day helps regulate your mood and emotions. Good nutrition also keeps your immune system healthy.

  6. Practice Good Hygiene

    Be extra vigilant and follow the precautions that have been advised. Keep your floors clean and sanitize hard surfaces regularly. Make sure you take a bath every day and are maintaining a daily personal hygiene routine.

  7. Find Ways to Express Yourself

    Whether by putting pen to paper, capturing videos, scrapbooking, keeping a journal or by blogging, expressing yourself helps to cope with your feelings. You can either write extensively or just a line a day, as long as you find a hobby that works best for you. This keeps the stress away and gives you something to look forward to every day.

  8. Get Organized

    Being at home all day may inspire you to re-organize your furniture or rearrange your wardrobe. Taking up a small project at a time and completing it can give you a sense of achievement. This can also bring some changes that you may have always wanted, but didn’t have the time for.

  9. Offer to Help People when You Can

    If you need help with groceries or medications for someone at home, do not hesitate to ask for help. Similarly, if you are stepping out, you can take a list of errands from elderly or sick people who cannot get out. Helping people out gives you a sense of fulfillment and calms the restless mind.

  10. Evade Paranoia

    The virus can turn even the sanest people into hypochondriacs. Reading about people experiencing all kinds of symptoms on the internet can make you start scrutinizing yourself for the slightest changes. Your mind begins to race through the possibilities and tries to figure out whether there is danger and what to do about it. The challenge lies in managing the anxiety that comes with it. Avoid building up small things in your head and focus on the now. Avoid thinking too far into the future and try to stay positive.

  11. Entertain Yourself

    Binge-watch shows on television or stream them online. Get comfortable and get ready to commit hours of your life to view someone else’s drama. If you have kids at home, play Disney and other animated movies, keeping them occupied for hours at once. Pick up a hobby like planting flowers if you have an interest in gardening, or try out new recipes and curate something. Have you always wanted to try your hand at baking? This is the time to see that wish come to life. Be patient and start with a basic recipe to discover a possible hidden talent in you! You can even pick up multiplayer games on apps such as Houseparty that allow you to video conference with friends and play simple online games such as Hangman, Pictionary and Trivia quizzes. This way you’ll get some facetime with your friends and stay occupied.

The Bottom Line

Simple steps like these can help bring a sense of normalcy and help you cope with the changing environment. Try to keep those around you, especially children, calm and focused. Reach out to a counselor telephonically if you are unable to manage your anxiety on your own. Ensure that you don’t give in to panic and stress as it compromises your immunity in the long run. How are you coping with the stress of the Covid-19 Pandemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Dr. Gopal D | Senior Physician & Intensivist Internal Medicine | Shimoga – Narayana Multispecialty Clinic, Shimoga | Sahyadri Narayana Multispeciality Hospital

Narayana Health

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