Managing Stress Related to COVID-19
In recent weeks, many of us are experiencing strong emotions related to the growing concerns over COVID-19. Every day seems to bring more reports of confirmed cases and that number continues to rise according to the California Department of Public Health. We are advised to practice social distancing, wear Personal Protective Equipment when we are outside, and have been told we are “safer at home” rather than in our general surroundings. Because of this, many businesses have temporarily (or unfortunately, in some cases, permanently) closed, whilst others have had to introduce things like shield guards and temperature checks to protect staff and the general public. And where possible, businesses have had to instruct employees to work from home to further help to protect the population. Working from home can have many complications and is completely out of the norm for many employees. In fact, many of us will have never worked from home before and thus it will be an entirely alien concept. There are things that can be done to try and make it a smoother transition (see this article entitled ‘How to Maximize Remote Working Experience During COVID-19‘ for help and guidance) but there is no ignoring the fact that it is only going to add more stress at an already tense time. Because of all this, we can find that stress and anxiety are increasing, spiralling into unwarranted fears. Losing social contact has also impacted our emotional wellbeing and although many of us have turned to virtual means, we are still finding ourselves feeling overwhelmed with the uncertainty of COVID-19. Although many parts of this pandemic are out of our control, it is important to identify what we do have control over.
Here are some helpful tips on managing stress and anxiety during this chaotic time.
· Set Boundaries – It is important to keep yourself up to date with information on various media platforms, but if you find yourself consumed with this information then set media limits.
· Relaxation- There are various ways of practicing relaxation including deep breathing, grounding, and/or meditation. You can start practicing deep breathing by inhaling a slow deep breath, holding your inhale for 4-5 seconds, and following it by a slow exhale.
· Journal – It is okay to feel whatever you’re feeling. Express your feelings in a healthy and constructive way. Journaling can provide you with an outlet to express and organize your thoughts.
· Self-care – Focus on loving and taking care of yourself, especially in times of stress. Remember if you do not take care of yourself, not only is your emotional health affected, but also your physical health as your immune system is compromised. Take a moment to identify simple ways to practice self-care.
Taking positive actions and identifying areas of control can help manage our fear. Remember that we are all going through this pandemic together and this too will pass. If you find yourself having difficulty controlling your anxiety or stress related to COVID-19, it can be helpful to talk to a mental health professional.
Talin Honarchian, LMFT
Avedian Counseling Center is offering three free individual sessions to a limited number of people. And, Talin Honarchian, LMFT, will be starting a free virtual support group on Mondays at 11 am for those directly impacted by the Coronavirus. Call us at (818) 426-2495 to learn more.