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Coping with stress during COVID-19 outbreak

Coping with stress during COVID-19 outbreak

  • April 4, 2020
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I pride myself on routine. I wake in the wee hours of the mornings. My coffee is set to brew precisely two minutes before my alarm chimes. While I sip my hot brew, I turn on a single lamp, sit in the corner spot on the couch and read my morning emails. A few minutes later, I don my pre-chosen workout clothes and head to the gym, where I am greeted by my always present, somewhat obsessive, 6 am crew. Afterward, it’s back to the house to start the rest of my day.

Despite my best efforts to avoid it, my life has changed. My routine has been totally disrupted. My beloved coffee creamer is out of stock, my favorite couch is strewn with homeschooling materials and my gym is closed. This list goes on and on…

Routines keep us grounded and disruption in routines can cause significant stress. On top of that, the current pandemic has our minds riddled with fear: Am I going to get sick? Can I pay the bills? What if I lose my house? When will I see my friends? How will this affect my parents? My children? My neighbors? Additionally, we don’t have access to many of the things we use for coping. Parks are closed. Theaters are closed. Social gatherings are cancelled.

The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. It’s important to recognize the seriousness of the public health challenge facing our community, and be mindful that reacting from a place of panic and fear is usually unhelpful, especially in the long-term. Looking after our wellbeing in times like this can help to reduce stress, and is crucial in enabling us to still take calm and effective action in the midst of this global crisis.

When many things feel uncertain or out of our control, one of the most effective ways we can manage stress and anxiety is to focus on the actions that are in our control. Here are some ways you can take intentional steps to look after your physical and emotional wellbeing during this challenging time.

Prevention: Very old saying which stands true in today’s scenario that prevention is better than cure. Social distancing, maintaining hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or alcohol based sanitizer are the best way of preventing from this infection. Stay at home, but if required to step out for utmost necessity wash all your exposed areas, wash your clothes and sanitize all the belongings you used while your visit outside.

Acknowledge your feelings: Whatever you are feeling right now, know that it’s okay to feel that way. Allow yourself time to notice and express what you’re feeling. It’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. Talking to people you trust can help. Get in touch with your loved ones and connect with them. Do things you’ve done in the past to help manage challenges and stress. Know that you’ve developed skills to manage your emotions and use them during this time, too. Be aware that not everything being said about COVID-19 is accurate. Go to trusted sources like your state or local health department, or the World Health Organization. If you’re staying home, stay healthy by eating well, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and having good social contact with loved ones by phone or video chat. Limit your stress and fear by reducing how much time you spend watching or reading the news or scrolling through social media, especially when you feel it’s upsetting information. Deal with your emotions in a healthy way. Have a plan ready in case you do start to feel overwhelmed, and don’t hesitate to talk to a counselor or therapist if you need to.

During this time of change, it’s natural for our minds to think of all the usual activities we may not be able to do at the moment. Make a conscious shift to focus on the activities we are still able to do, or those that we may have more opportunity to do if we’re at home more often. Some ideas could be to keep learning and maintaining your study, read a long standing book of your shelf, listen to a podcast, try out a new hobby or skill (e.g., cook a new recipe, play an instrument, learn a language, learn how to sew, gardening), play with your pet and teach them new things.

Stay Home! Stay Safe!

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