The rise in cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, comes with a corresponding rise in anxiety and stress across the country as we fight this pandemic. Given the accelerating number of cases and the economic impact of social distancing and shelter-in-place directives, it's only normal that more of us are feeling anxious and stressed.
The good news is that there are ways you can lessen your anxiety and stress related to COVID-19. Our clinicians have been appearing in the media and on podcasts to spread the word about how to do this. Some of their suggestions include:
- Take care of your body. Exercise, eat well, stay hydrated and get a good night's sleep. When we take care of our body, with good sleep in particular, as well as food and water, our ability to think clearly, to solve problems and manage our emotions are all optimized. If you're plagued with insomnia, try these tips to help you sleep better, which, in turn, will help improve your mental health.
- Start a new hobby or pick up an old one. Keeping your mind engaged - and off the news cycle - will go a long way toward reducing stress.
- Limit time spent on the news. An abundance of bad news can drag anyone down; instead, spend time on a positive activity like exercise, meditation, etc.
- In a relationship? Think about relationship distancing in addition to social distancing. Find safe ways to relationship distance so that you have the energy to remain connected. Discuss expectations about how much time to spend together and schedule time to read a book, listen to music, watch a movie or play a game so that you can try to support each other's needs for alone time, too. Find time to spend alone and enhance time spent together.
- Laugh when you can. Laughter soothes tension, enhances mood, relieves stress and increases the endorphins released by the brain.
- Talk with your family about what they can do to protect themselves. These conversations can be therapeutic in and of themselves.
- Still overwhelmed? You might need more support, care and guidance than your family and friends can offer. If that's the case, reach out for help from a mental health professional. Many are using digital technology to see patients virtually; so you probably won't even have to leave the comfort of your home for help. Learn more about telehealth visits with Menninger's outpatient therapy team.
Menninger in the Media
Check out these clips for more information about managing anxiety and stress related to COVID-19: