During a natural disaster or an outbreak, like coronavirus, many people can experience an increase in stress and anxiety. For those who already struggle with an anxiety disorder or depression, the qualm with the virus can make it even harder to manage ongoing daily battles. The important thing to remember is that we are not alone and there are many resources available that offer tips and ways to combat anxiety, stress, and depression during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CDC is an important resource to getting the latest news updates and advice on how to cope with stress. Another informational source is the ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, this non-profit organization has created a resource page, updated daily, to provide helpful tips and strategies to managing COVID-19 anxiety. The page offers advice from ADAA mental health professionals, personal stories of triumph, and a multitude of links to various resources, articles, and videos. The following outline discusses some ways we can prevent over worrying and manage anxiety during troubling times.

Avoid Obsessing & Practice Media Distancing

It is easy to get caught up in all the media madness that the virus is creating right now. Not to mention your anxiety and fears are running high, telling you to constantly check your news outlets and social media. While it is important to stay informed, so that you are cooperating with your community and state guidelines. Going overboard can cause more tension than before. Try to stick to these key points when it comes to gathering information about COVID-19.

  • Schedule time each day to read the latest coronavirus news. HelpGuide says that constant monitoring can turn compulsive and increase anxiety, and you should step away if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Make sure to choose credible resources such as the CDC or the World Health Organization.
  • Ask someone you trust to share important updates.
  • Be mindful of the sources you are sharing with others.  

Make Time to Focus on You

While some people are lucky to be able to continue to work from home, a routine is important to establish, so that we know when to disconnect from work and connect with ourselves or others we share a space with. Even if you are not working from home, taking care of ourselves can help reduce the stress and anxiety we are all experiencing. A routine can help with preventing additional stresses. Other ways you can control worrying are by:

  • Creating a journal that you can write in daily or weekly about your stresses and feelings.
  • Getting out in nature. Take a walk, sit on your patio, or gardening.
  • Exercise.
  • Eating healthy and making sure to get enough sleep.
  • Starting a new hobby or enjoying the ones you already have. Read a book, play video games, create a work of art, or bake something yummy! Distractions are a great way to take your mind off present situations.
  • Taking some time to organize or reorganize some of the clutter spots in your home. Try the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. 

Stay Connected

You may have started experiencing the negative effects of social distancing by now--feeling lonely, isolated, and disconnected from the world. It doesn't have to be this way! There are so many great tools to use to staying connected with friends, family and co-workers, like Facebook, FaceTime, and Zoom. These tools can help you reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression and even have a positive impact on your physical health.

  • Schedule regular Skype calls or Zoom meetings with friends or family members.
  • Host a game night via Zoom or another platform. Wirecutter offers a how-to article on hosting a virtual game night.
  • Social media is a useful tool to stay connected with your social circle and community but try to avoid scrolling too long and being sucked into the never-ending social media doom.
  • Remember to talk about other topics besides the virus
  • If you are struggling and need other assistance besides friends or families, don't hesitate to get extra support. 7Cups offers free emotional support with 180 professional therapists and thousands of volunteer listeners.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • Disaster Distress Helpline

For Parents

This can also be a stressful time for parents, with trying to balance work, childcare, self-care, and keeping worries under control. Child Mind Institute is a great resource for parents (and non-parents) offering advice on how to talk about the virus with your children, manage self-care, and practice mindfulness. They even offer resources for families who have children on the spectrum or ADHD. Child Mind's experts say that dealing with your own anxiety can be the most powerful way to make sure your kids feel secure. A few things that they suggest are:

  • Checking in with your children and using feelings charts, asking "force choice questions," or talking about yourself first and asking follow-up questions if they felt the same.
  • Creating a routine filled with different activities and quiet time.
  • Making sure you and your children are getting exercise.
  • Looking for the positive.

Practicing media distancing, self-care, and staying connected with loved ones can help manage stress and anxiety during worrying times. It is important to stay positive and communicate if you are struggling and need help. Keep in mind that outbreaks and pandemics affect everyone differently and those already fighting with stress, anxiety, or depression can be shaken up more than usual. Remember to check on your co-workers, friends and families. Explore the resources above to help you through COVID-19 and manage your anxiety.

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About The Author

Charrie earned a Bachelor's in Studio Arts with a minor in Advertising from the University of Houston. She found her niche for office administration before graduating and enjoys helping people become successful. One of her favorite things to do in the office is to coordinate events and parties. When she is not at work, you can find Charrie playing roller derby with Yellow Rose Derby Girls, loving on her cats, painting, or creating ceramic vases.

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