Stress during an outbreak: What you can do to help yourself

Stress during an outbreak: What you can do to help yourself

In the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, do you find yourself experiencing any of these?

  • Intensified feelings of anxiety over the health of your loved ones and yourself
  • Drastic changes in your sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Stronger urges to consume more alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • Worsening chronic health problems

These signs may indicate that you’re undergoing immense stress, which is completely understandable given the circumstances. But there are many things you can do to manage your stress during an outbreak.

#1 Stick to credible sources

It’s important to gather information about COVID-19 so you can determine your risk and take precautions. But there’s so much misinformation about the disease, especially on social media, which may trigger unnecessary stress and anxiety. Avoid this by sticking to trustworthy sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and your local public health authorities.

#2 Limit your time spent consuming news

While there’s value in staying informed about the latest news and developments about the COVID-19 pandemic, constant exposure to these can take a toll on your mental health. It’s best to limit your media consumption per day. The time limit varies per person, so find a healthy balance of news exposure that works for you.

#3 Focus on things you can control

It’s easy to feel helpless, given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis. To help you manage your emotions, shift your focus onto things you can control. While you can’t control the number of people getting infected by the disease, you can minimize your risk of getting infected by taking steps such as:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched

#4 Take care of your body

Taking care of your physical health will do wonders for your mental health as well. This includes consuming healthy food and drinks, staying physically active, and getting plenty of sleep. Avoid using alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs to deal with your emotions.

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#5 Make time for activities you enjoy

Carve out time every day to do things that help you unwind. You can read a lighthearted book, watch a comedy film, or play video games. Get back to your hobbies such as playing an instrument, baking, painting, or any activity that takes away your worries and helps you relax.

#6 Stick to a routine

With several US states imposing lockdowns and quarantine restrictions, a lot of people are forced to stay inside their homes. This can be very jarring for many. To help you regain a sense of normalcy, maintain a regular schedule for meals, work (or studies, if you’re a student), breaks, and sleep.

#7 Stay connected with your loved ones

While it’s important to observe social distancing to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, you should still make it a point to interact with others regularly. After all, we’re social beings, and we especially need the support of our loved ones during times of uncertainty and fear. Otherwise, fear and isolation may lead us to develop mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Reach out to the people you trust via phone, text chat, video calls, or other virtual platforms. Share with them your concerns and feelings, but also make time to simply enjoy each other’s company. Don’t let the pandemic dominate all of your conversations.

#8 Contact your local mental healthcare provider
If your stress is getting in the way of your daily activities for consecutive days, it’s best to get in touch with your local mental healthcare provider, such as Meridian Psychiatric Partners for the Chicago, Evanston, and Lake Forest areas.

We remain available to help you deal with the stress brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. You may set up a telehealth appointment by calling 312-640-7740.

Don't know how to cope with stress?

At Meridian Psychiatric Partners, we help you identify your needs and establish therapeutic approaches to positively influence the evolution to a healthier you.

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