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COPING WITH ANXIETY AND STRESS DURING A PANDEMIC
Sneha Kishore

COPING WITH ANXIETY AND STRESS DURING A PANDEMIC

The news lately can be frightening, confusing, and overwhelming. We are facing a global pandemic that has rapidly spread and is constantly changing. Thousands have been affected and many more to come. How does this make us feel? How do we cope with such extreme stress and uncertainty? What, if anything, can we do?

First and foremost, get information from reliable sources. Listening to everything thrown at us can become overwhelming and very unproductive. Reliable sources such as CDC or WHO can provide helpful information regarding the current state of the situation and what we can do about it. Second, focus on what we can do to protect ourselves and others, like handwashing and “social distancing”. Practice methods that are recommended by trusted organizations. At this time most local level health centers are taking cues from Public Health and the CDC. When we work on things we can control, our minds are engaged in a productive manner, leaving less time for worry.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak gave us insights into the challenges faced during a pandemic. Along with medical support, many people, families, caregivers, and healthcare workers may need emotional support as they witness high rates of morbidity and mortality. Media coverage can become overwhelming for people trying to cope with their realities as well. This can create mass hysteria, cause panic and further spread of disease and misinformation. It is also important to note that those with mental health concerns prior to a global health crisis may have a worsening of symptoms. If there is concern for you or a loved one, please reach out to a mental health provider for help.

What are ways to destress? Practice self-care. Physical care, like exercise, eating nutritious food, getting adequate sleep. Social care…even if we are practicing “social distance” at this time we can connect via phone or video to keep our social connections strong. Mental self-care involves exercising our minds. Learning something new, reading an interesting book, or watching an inspiring movie can keep our minds sharp and healthy. Spiritual self-care is not necessarily related to religion. It is anything that gives us deeper meaning in life and a stronger connection to our universe. Emotional self-care involves processing our emotions through social interactions and leisure activities.

Hope this gives some guidance in taking better care of ourselves and managing our stress and anxiety through difficult times. Let’s also support each other, use resources wisely, and avoid hoarding so we can all get through this pandemic safely.

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