The COVID-19 pandemic has been a harrowing experience for our nation and the world, disrupting every aspect of life from work to school to travel to family gatherings. Since March 2020, we’ve had to absorb many cancellations and disappointments — children unable to attend birthday parties, teens missing out on prom or graduation, adults unable to attend concerts or conferences, and families having to curtail their holiday celebrations. Grief from losing a loved one or trauma from experiencing a frightening illness have become all too commonplace in the collective fabric of our lives.
As we move into yet another uncertain period of the pandemic, you’re not alone if you’re still feeling the effects of the past 22 months — stress, anxiety, sadness, and a persistent worry that you or your loved ones may be at risk of contracting the illness. Much of the anxiety you are feeling likely stems from the fact that you have no control over the events unfolding around you.
Instead of focusing on what you cannot control, a better strategy is to focus on what you can control—your actions and reactions in response to the pandemic. Here are a few tips for controlling anxiety as the pandemic continues.
Limit Your News Consumption
While it’s important to stay informed of news that will keep you safe during the pandemic, you don’t have to be obsessed with every new development. Limit how much time you spend each day reading or watching the news about the pandemic. Make an agreement with your loved ones that you will only spend a finite number of minutes each day discussing the pandemic, and then move onto other topics.
Improve Your Health
Take as many concrete steps as possible to improve your overall health. Eat a healthy diet, exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week (that’s just over two hours), and watch your weight. If you smoke, give up the habit. Also limit your alcohol consumption, and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Don’t let fear of COVID cause you to skip your preventative health exams or your regular cancer screenings. Medical centers and testing facilities have COVID protocols in place to keep you safe during your visits.
Maximize Relaxation and Fun
Control your stress level with yoga, meditation, or relaxation techniques. There are many resources online to help you get started. Fill the news void in your life by reading a good book or binge-watching a TV show. Start a new hobby like woodworking, gardening, or fiction-writing, or tackle a long-awaited home improvement project.
Participate in activities that carry minimum risk of COVID exposure, such as tennis or pickleball, a hike that allows you to reconnect with nature, a trip to the zoo, or a masked-up visit to a local art museum.
Anything that keeps your mind off the negative news of the day and focuses you toward something more worthwhile and enjoyable can help alleviate the stress you otherwise are feeling.
Stay Connected with Others
Staying safe from COVID doesn’t mean you have to remain in isolation. You can gather safely with family and friends in small groups. Follow local guidelines at all indoor gatherings, and if those are worrisome to you, meet with family and friends outdoors as weather permits.
You can also still leverage the power of technology to stay connected. Schedule regular game nights via Skype or Zoom, or get together with friends for a weekly online watch party of your favorite TV show. Of course, you also can reach out by phone to friends and loved ones, especially those who might be feeling isolated or lonely and would consider an interaction with a cheerful voice as a highlight of their day.
Seek Professional Assistance
If you are unable to cope with the stress and anxiety produced by COVID on your own, seek the help of a mental healthcare professional. Many therapists are providing online options during the ongoing pandemic, giving you an outlet to talk about your feelings. They also provide helpful strategies for reducing stress and putting you in a positive frame of mind.
Beachside will help you address your pandemic stress and anxiety with its mental health program. If you’d like to learn more, contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 for details.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash