COVID-19: Tips to reduce your stress and anxiety

March 31, 2020

Wellness During COVID-19 Wellness Mental Health
woman doing yoga

Stress-relieving activities and ways to stay healthy, active

It may be stating the obvious, but things can feel very uncertain right now. That, along with many changes to our schedules and routines can make stress and anxiety quick to set in. As we start to take steps to protect our physical health, it’s also important to take care of our mental health. 

“Stress and anxiety are very normal responses to COVID-19 and the changes we’re experiencing as individuals, family members and a society,” explains Natalie Barron, M.D. "But, it’s very important to balance that reaction with a more positive outlook, which ultimately helps your physical and mental health. 

Dr. Barron, of Riverside Primary Care Norge, shares a few simple ways for you and your loved ones to stay physically and mentally healthy. 

Limit your news intake

It’s important to stay updated on what’s happening about COVID-19, but it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of articles, news updates and podcasts. Before you open up a favorite news app or turn on the television, set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the news and re-center yourself with a few quick, cleansing breaths. 

Recognize and validate your feelings

It’s normal to respond to new situations and uncertainty with feelings of stress, anxiety, worry and sadness. When you do begin to feel that way, take a few moments to acknowledge how you feel. Identify what’s causing it: Are you concerned about a family member or how to stay on top of your child’s schedule? Once you can get to the root of your worry, you can make an action plan to help you feel more in control of the situation. 

Stay active

You don’t need a crowded gym or full fitness class to stay active and healthy. Find another way to move while being a responsible community member:

  • Go for a walk
  • Ride bikes with your family
  • Go on a hike
  • Do a home yoga video
  • Take a virtual fitness class
  • Run through your neighborhood
  • Exercise during commercial breaks
  • Do push-ups, sit-ups or planks every morning
  • Put on some music and have a dance party

Take care of yourself

Self-care takes on a new importance during stressful times. Adults often find themselves caring and worrying about loved ones – whether it’s children, partners or older parents – before thinking about themselves. Carve out time for yourself so that you can relax and reset from whatever worries you’ve carried during the day. Here are activities to try:

  • Gentle stretches
  • Deep, cleansing breaths
  • Read a book
  • Take a bath
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Watch a favorite television show (but limit time in front of screens!)
  • Talk to a friend
  • FaceTime or Skype with family you can’t be with in person

Talk to a professional

Your mental health is a key part of your overall health. Studies have shown that stress, anxiety and depression can impact your physical health. If stress and anxiety are interfering with your daily life, reach out to a mental health professional. A trained professional can help you navigate your feelings and help you find effective ways to manage your stress.

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