Feeling Stressed Over COVID-19

The coronavirus has become a part of our lives. Turn on any news program, browse the internet, read a newspaper or listen to the radio — chances are high the main story of the day is the latest COVID-19 update.

We’re bombarded. We hear “flattening the curve” and see maps highlighting the spread of the disease. No wonder so many people are worried. On top of this, we’re told to stay at home. Caution is wise, and having a plan can lower your anxiety level.

Being away from family and friends can be tough both mentally and physically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being socially apart from others can lead to depression. To cope, try the following:

  • Take breaks from the news. Although it’s important to stay informed, overload can take its toll on your mental health.
  • Limit your time on social media sites, which have an overabundance of COVID-19 stories, not all of which are factual.
  • Acknowledge feeling lonely, sad, frustrated or depressed.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone you trust.
  • Take breaks. Give your dog some exercise or go for a walk. Just make sure you follow the rule of keeping a distance of six feet away from others.
  • Call friends.
  • You can be face-to-face from a distance by video chatting. Thanks to video chats, you can see the facial expressions of friends and family.
  • Host a virtual book club. Invite friends to read a book and discuss in a video chat.
  • Prepare a virtual dinner. Ask friends to make a dish and share the recipe.
  • Make sure you get some exercise. According to a study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, physical exercise can reduce depression. You can exercise at home. Put on music and dance. If you prefer, watch and follow along with an exercise video. You can also invite friends virtually via video chat to join you.

Check in on a Friend

According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults can be especially vulnerable to loneliness. Call and ask if they need anything. The same advice applies to people with disabilities and special needs.

Limit your time shopping and socializing. If you run any errands for someone in need, wear a mask and observe the six-feet-of-separation rule.

Another way to boost your mood is to let our health care workers know you appreciate their efforts. To share an encouraging message or positive story, email our CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.