Navigating Pandemic Stress

By Katie Tippett

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a lot of new stressors, as well as emphasized current stressors in our daily lives. Sometimes worry and anxiety can consume us, especially when there are so many variables out of our control. These uncertainties can become uncomfortable and overwhelming. Let’s focus on some ways in which we can reduce stress and begin to feel more at ease with these uncertainties.

Focus on What You Can Control

It is helpful to think about things you do have control over, especially during the pandemic. Here are some things you can control, as well as steps you can take to help protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wear a mask when you are around others who do not live with you
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you can, even if you feel well
  • Avoid non-essential shopping and travel
  • Practice social distancing
  • Get enough sleep and eat well, as this helps to support your immune system
  • Follow recommendations from official health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization

Think about some other ways in which you can protect yourself that are within your control. Practicing these steps will allow you to have more control over your health, which can help to reduce anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. 

Photo from Psychology Tools

Limit Exposure to the News

It may feel important to be constantly connected to the news and staying up to date on what is going on in the world. While it is important to stay informed, the news cycle never stops, which means you have constant access to new information. You might find yourself frequently checking phone notifications, scrolling through social media, or compulsively watching news on the TV. 

When you click on a shocking headline, there is constantly something new and scary, which increases your anxiety and stress and can fuel anger. It can be helpful to focus less on the news and instead find positive things to focus on. Since this is easier said than done, here are some helpful tips that will aid in limiting your news consumption:

  1. Turn off notifications. Start slowly by turning off news notifications. This will be the first step in allowing you to step away from being constantly bombarded with new headlines.
  2. Designate “no news” times. Designate certain times of the day when you will check the news. Try to not consume news right before bed and first thing in the morning. 
  3. Seek out the positive. Look for positive news to help balance out some of the negative. Uplifting content about acts of kindness or stories about animals, for example, can be a positive way to begin your day.
  4. Turn it all off. If you are going through a particularly difficult time or feel especially stressed, it may be helpful to drastically limit the news in order to best support yourself. Take a step back from the news and focus on what you need to improve your well being and mental health. Focus on self-care, such as reading a book, exercising, or meditating. Avoid checking the news until you are in a better place mentally.

Tips from BetweenSessions.com

Create a Schedule or Daily Routine

A schedule or routine can help reduce anxiety and allow us to create more consistency and normalcy in our daily lives. Develop a schedule for you or for your entire family that can help everyone stick to a routine. 

This resource will help aid you in developing a schedule and also provides some tips for staying motivated: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1h_Uc4oF7fVjsKxoM5aErj7zYJpJa6x-v/view?usp=sharing

Reach Out For Support

Seeking support from others improves our health and well being. Social connection is important in maintaining our mental, emotional, and physical health. Reach out to others via call, text, or video chat. Setting aside time for socialization will be helpful in improving your mood and reducing stress. 

Use the following resource for more tips and to develop your own ideas of ways to stay connected:

Practice Mindfulness

Practice engaging in a mindfulness exercise. This could include coloring, meditation, deep breathing, and more. Take a noticing walk, use imagery, or practice positive affirmations to help promote relaxation. There are many helpful resources online and on YouTube to help you practice mindfulness. Look around and find one that works best for you.

Here is a resource for developing a self-care plan: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BwDcvgUvuqRa6anI0fq0yEuPRdPt72WB/view?usp=sharing

Check out these helpful resources to help cope with anxiety, stress, and worry related to the COVID-19 pandemic:

For more tips on navigating pandemic stress or to schedule an appointment for individual, group, or family counseling, reach out to Serenity Place, LLC at 301-690-8008 or via email at appointments@serenityplace.biz.

References

BetweenSessions.com

Psychology Tools

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