For decades we have heard about the hardships and tragedies around the globe from the relative safety and calm of our own personal lives. For the first time ever all of humankind is faced with a very real and serious threat all at one time. The whole world is hunkering down in an effort to escape this coronavirus. We are faced with a whole new stress that threatens our physical wellbeing and that of the people we love. Although humans are adaptable as we have all demonstrated over the last several weeks, it is not without its toll.
We are all wrestling with the stress and worry about contracting this virus and have made great changes to our lifestyles to keep ourselves healthy. As a social creature keeping our distance from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family limits the comfort and support we naturally derive from being with each other. We are isolating and alienating ourselves from the people we very much want to be with for our own mental and emotional needs. In short, we are struggling to cope with the possibility of contracting the coronavirus and at the same time trying to cope with the lack of connection and support we would usually seek to cope with this type of stressful situation.
On top of feeling scared and lonely most of us have been forced to deal with a lot of change on top of the stress of isolation. Our children are no longer going to school or daycare, which compounds stress for many parents. Many adults are without any work at all or adjusting to working from home which creates challenges for all. Most of us have lost access to, or the ability to engage in our self-care activities such as going to the gym, the movies, or out with friends. As creatures of habit, most of us are reeling as our routines and schedules have been blown apart.
It is with great optimism that we all hope this crisis will begin to abate and we can return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives again. While we look for that light at the end of the tunnel, there are some things we can do for ourselves to help cope with the variety of stressors and changes we are going through.
Tips for COVID-19 Stress Management
- Create a regular schedule: Hopefully, you can preserve some elements of your normal routine. Whether you can or not, it is important to start a new routine. Because we are in fact creatures of habit and thrive on that which is familiar and predictable, you can do yourself a favor and try to put yourself on routine. This can be as simple as getting up at the same time each day (whether you need to or not), try to keep meals at the same time, exercise at the same time, tackle work project, do some household chores, and carve out some relaxation time. Try your best to keep things regular.
- Monitor your diet: When we are stressed out many people reach for those comfort foods which are often carbs and sweets. As always, your body needs a well-balanced source of nutrition and this is a fairly easy thing to control. Don’t overindulge in junk foods and make sure you are eating well and taking care of your body.
- Get some exercise: Physical activity can be a great way to release some pent-up stress and tension. Exercise can help tire you out and fall asleep more easily, which can be a challenge for many when their minds are racing about various stressors. Additionally, exercise helps to release endorphins which are your body’s natural neurotransmitters that combat pain and stress.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: Dealing with stress can put many people at higher risk to lean on chemicals to cope with stress, check out, and escape for a while. This short-term fix can quickly turn into a bad long-term addiction or abuse problem. Masking problems is not a good fix.
- Get support for yourself: Although you may not be able to hop in the car with your neighbors or get that hug from your friend, that doesn’t mean they cannot offer any support. For the time being, support is going to have to be mental, emotional, and verbal. Reach out and talk through feelings, frustrations, and try to laugh with the ones you love. Because so many of us are scrambling to deal with accumulating and compounding stressors, you may find yourself in need of some professional assistance. If you are feeling burned out, anxious, or depressed, don’t be afraid to get some help. Most mental health providers are accessible in the office or via telehealth. You are not alone in this.
If you are concerned about how you are coping and would like to meet with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists about treatment options, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.
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