Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety
In light of the current health crisis relating to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many people are feeling fearful, uncertain, anxious and worried about the consequences. It’s important to remember that some individuals may be more affected than others depending on life stressors and association with past events. It’s natural for individuals to become readily distracted, anxious and less productive in their day-to-day functioning but excessive worrying, whatever the source, should be appropriately and compassionately attended to.
At times of stress and anxiety, we are sometimes prone to using counter-productive strategies, which instead increase our anxiety. There are ways to dampen down the physical and emotional symptoms associated with anxiety. In the case of COVID-19, constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds, may significantly increases anxiety. So, if you are feeling anxious, consider turning off automatic notifications and updates on COVID-19. Instead, do less frequent checks of reliable, impartial sources of information updates on COVID-19. Information can be reassuring if it is rooted in facts.
At times of stress and anxiety, purposeful, regular breathing can help prevent the onset of panic and the unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety. This is also true for exercise, which can help reduce the excess adrenaline build-up associated with anxiety. It can also give much needed perspective. Perhaps most importantly, it’s important not to disconnect from your social network. Personal relationships are crucial in maintaining perspective, elevating mood and allowing distraction away from concerns that trouble us. Even in imposed isolation, it is important to combat loneliness and keep talking – for example, via video chats.
We are globally united in living with a very real yet uncertain health threat. Vigilance and precautionary measures are essential. But psychological distress and widespread panic does not have to be part of this experience. Continuing normal daily activities, maintaining perspective and reducing unnecessary stress is key to psychological well-being. In other words, where possible, keep calm and carry on.
If you have feelings of anxiety or distress despite trying these techniques, or feel overwhelmed at any time, do talk to your health care provider or contact McMaster’s Employee and Family Assistance Provider (EFAP) – Homewood Health.