It’s not surprising that many people are feeling anxiety about the pandemic. Fear and worry are natural reactions to experience during these times of historic upheaval. Even those who stay busy and are able to avoid dwelling on these thoughts during the day can experience occasional sleepless nights.
“Some anxiety is secondary and temporary, while others may experience more consistent anxiety disorders. Bottom line, it’s very common,” says Nathanael Altmeyer, PhD, a psychologist with Scripps Health.
Everyone responds to stress differently, but learning a few coping techniques can help you through this difficult period.
“You can reduce stress by making changes or adjustments at home and reaching out for help if the stress gets to be too much,” adds Leah Welch, PhD, also a Scripps Health psychologist.
Whether you’re worried about getting sick or tired of being cooped up during lockdown, you’re not alone. Below, Drs. Altneyer and Welch share seven simple strategies for coping with fear and reducing stress.
Make sure you’re getting information from reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local government authorities, and take a time-out if it makes you upset.
Finding a few minutes each day to incorporate deep breathing exercises, stretching and meditation can help calm your nerves.
Spend some time reflecting on positive events. Remember to find gratitude for all that you have, even during these difficult times.
Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding big meals, caffeine and/or alcohol close to bedtime. Turn off your electronics and keep your bedroom cool and dark. You can also try a weighted blanket.
There are many ways to get a good workout at home or outside while practicing social distancing. These including walking, jogging, swimming, yoga and body weight exercises. If you’re looking for structure, many fitness professionals and organizations are offering free online classes.
Technology allows us to shelter at home and remain engaged with people in real time via video apps like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime, or on social media.
“You may feel better knowing a loved one is doing well or being able to share your concerns and explain how you’re feeling,” Dr. Welch says.
If you have a preexisting mental health condition, continue your regular treatment and note any new or worsening symptoms. If you’re feeling distressed and it’s affecting your daily life, contact your health care provider.
“Each of us is helped, soothed or comforted in different ways,” says Dr. Altmeyer. “If one stress
management technique doesn’t work for you, give a different one a try.”
This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.