Global disease outbreaks can be stressful, especially when it starts to impact your everyday life.
While different people react differently to this type of stress, common reactions can be:
- Fear of the unknown
- Change in sleep, eating habits and increased use of alcohol or drugs as a way to cope.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following ways to support yourself (1):
- While it’s important to educate yourself to reduce the fear of unknown, Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Connect with others.
- Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
- Try to plan time to communicate with those in your support system.
- If in person interaction with others is not possible, a phone call or video chat may be an option to consider.
- Keep social distancing in mind. CDC recommendations for social distancing (Remaining out of places where people meet or gather, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
The following are adapted from National Library of Medicine (2):
- Recognize and accept the things you can’t change. This can help you let go and not get upset. For instance, you might not change rush hour traffic, but you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
- Avoid stressful triggers when possible. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
- Exercise. Regular exercise or physical activity most days for about 30 minutes can help your brain release chemicals that make you feel good, and help you release built-up energy or frustration.
- Change your outlook. Are you being too negative? Work on more positive attitude toward challenges by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones.
- Do something you enjoy preferably daily even if it’s just for a few minutes. Examples include reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend, a new hobby or class.
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This can help you think more clearly, and have more energy.
- Eat enough AND eat healthy foods. This can help fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, lean proteins, good fats.
- Learn to say no. Set limits if you feel over-scheduled, cut back or defer where you can. Ask others for help when you need it.
Consider relaxation techniques:
- Get organized.
- Excessive digital media usage can worsen inattention symptoms.
- Trim your schedule, if possible.
- Consider a gratitude journal.
- Online Mindfulness practices through OSU Wexner medical center
- National Institutes of Health’s page on Meditation
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.