How to Cope With Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19
With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching a pivotal point in history, the world is preparing itself to return to normalcy with some of the restrictions being loosened. It is very easy to become a little anxious, especially when uncertainty affects more than yourself. Listed below are ideas that you may find helpful in coping with stress and anxiety.
- Acknowledge that some fear and anxiety is normal – With more information surfacing regarding COVID-19, uncertainty remains on what the future may look like and the changes it brings. Accepting the anxiety of the unknown may help motivate you to find different ways of protecting yourself and learning more about the pandemic.
- Seek credible data about the virus – The mass media can at times twist news stories. Remain wary of sources such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where information can at times be untrustworthy. Not all of it is accurate. Therefore, it is important to stick to reliable news outlets. Some include:
- The World Health Organization (opens in a new window)
- Health Canada(opens in a new window)
- Ontario Ministry of Health (opens in a new window)
- Your local public health unit (opens in a new window)
- Find a balance: Remain informed but remind yourself to disconnect once in a while- Staying tuned in is important; however, too much information might prove to be more stressful. Try limiting your interaction with media outlets to once a day or less to reduce stress.
- Bring an intentional mindset to unplugging – Take some me time. Unplug from your phones, laptop, or tablets to be present in the now. Or try doing something for yourself, like reading a book or going for a walk.
- Deal with problems in a structured way – The pandemic can be a bit overwhelming, so it is useful to identify issues that should be settled or tended to and which are simply worries or stresses.
- Avoid a “What If” mindset and remind yourself to be resilient – The power of “What if” can have adverse effects on our mindset. While in stressful situations, it might help to remind yourself of the resilience within and use coping strategies that have helped navigate you through everyday problems. For instance, try to think back to a moment when you have experienced a difficult or challenging situation that you were able to diffuse. What strategies did you use to cope with it?
- Challenge worries and anxious thoughts – Elevated levels of stress and anxiety can impact our thought processes. At times, they can even make us believe our worries are real. However, not all our worries are based on truth, rather a part of our worries taking form. Challenge those thoughts and work through what may be fact or fiction.
- Practice meditation and relaxation techniques– There is an abundance of benefits of using relaxation and meditation strategies to reduce or manage stress and anxiety. Choosing activities such as yoga, mindfulness meditation or finding relaxation through things you enjoy are good methods to adopt.
- Seek Support – Reaching out and getting support is not a sign of weakness. With the pandemic ongoing, social distancing has created some bumps in the road in being with our loved ones. Remain connected with others through online platforms, contact a professional for online therapy or seek support from your community.
- Focus on you –Find healthy ways to cope and stray away from comfort foods. Stress can lead us to choose comfort foods, which do not actually help our stress and health. Try making healthy choices such as drinking more water or eating more vegetables and fruit. It’s important to take care of and be kind to yourself. Rome was not built in a day – Remind yourself that things take time and try not to beat yourself up when things do not go according to plan.
- Avoid over-indulging in caffeine– coffee has amazing benefits, although too much of it can make anxiety worse. Moderate your caffeine intake to avoid problems with your sleep.
- Establish a proper sleeping schedule –Lack of sleep can elevate stress levels while also affecting how we manage stressful events throughout our day. Doing things such as keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, practicing meditation before bed, or doing physical activity earlier in the day are all ways that can help you get proper rest and sleep.
- Stay active – Exercise has an array of benefits. It helps improve your mood and health while also reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Working-out from home can seem a little repetitive; however, YouTube is an amazing platform to find exercise regimes that you can follow along too.
If you find that these ideas do not help you cope, there are other ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Feeling anxious about COVID-19 is perfecting normal, but sometimes you need a little bit of help along the way. Find extra support from a family doctor, psychologist, psychotherapist, or other professional may be just what is needed. Below are some surveys that can help you better understand your stress levels. Assessing your stress levels may be a great first step in improving your mindset.
Note: These are NOT intended to diagnose mental illness and are only included for informational purposes.
- Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) – This scale helps determine how stressful you perceive life events. You can take the test here: https://edc.camhx.ca/redcap/surveys/?s=MJYMXW9LTH (opens in a new window)
- Stress can Drag You Down – Helps determine how well you cope with stress in your life. Lower scores indicate a stronger ability to cope with stress. You can take the test here: https://edc.camhx.ca/redcap/surveys/?s=N93X9NLEXX (opens in a new window)
- GAD-7 – used to screen for symptoms of anxiety. You can take the test here: https://edc.camhx.ca/redcap/surveys/?s=EKA8LJEWHD (opens in a new window)
At The Therapy Centre, we have skilled Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychotherapists who effectively treat a variety of issues that may be difficult to process on your own, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness as well as anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
At The Therapy Centre, we are currently offering in-person and Telehealth services, including secure phone sessions and videoconferencing.
Our offices are located at 2525 Old Bronte Road in Oakville and 849 Upper Wentworth Street in Hamilton-just minutes from the QEW and easily accessible from Peel Region, Halton Region, Halton Hills, Stoney Creek and Niagara Region.
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