Without a doubt, the outbreak of COVID-19 is creating a lasting impact across the landscape of America. How are practices like social distancing, voluntary or mandated quarantines, and the closing of businesses affecting our emotional health? It couldn’t be a more critical time to talk about managing our stress.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that fear and anxiety around coronavirus are high, but especially so for those facing a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. This population includes the elderly, anyone with chronic illness, and our brave frontline workers who are out there doing their best for the rest of us.
Personally, my young daughter has a rare disease and a compromised immune system. It is something that weighs on me each time I need to do something routine like buy groceries or stop by the pharmacy. I especially worry about making her sick, but I also have to take care of my family. I have no doubts that anyone reading this has similar concerns for themselves or their loved ones. We are in it together, and we will get through this.
What is Stress?
Stress is a common physical and emotional reaction we experience when confronting the daily challenges life throws our way. Long-term stress can be harmful to us and lead to things like digestive or sleep disorders, headaches, and other conditions. Stress may even worsen asthma and is linked to anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
What are some signs of mental distress of stress?
There are several indicators that you or someone else might be experiencing stress. Look for signs like these.
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
- Chronic health conditions worsening.
- Increased worry or fear about your health or that of loved ones.
Managing Stress Levels During Coronavirus Pandemic
Thankfully, Dr. Jerson Cadenas, of UnitedHealthcare of Texas and Oklahoma Chief Medical Officer, has some great tips for managing stress levels during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Cadenas is providing the following coping strategies to help minimize feelings of anxiety and other negative feelings.
Always check with your primary care provider before trying anything new, or to talk about how you are feeling. Your health and well-being are important!
How can I reduce feelings of stress?
Making a meaningful change in how you are feeling might be easier than you think! There are many things you can do as needed to help yourself feel better. Just consider any of the following activities.
- Talk with others and make time to connect virtually. Share your worries and feelings.
- Schedule time for things you like to do. Take the time to relax and pamper yourself! Why not try a new DIY beauty project?
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks from the news, watching TV, and social media. Sometimes it’s good to clear your mind.
- Try stretching and mindfulness activities like meditation or deep breathing.
- Continue staying healthy by eating balanced meals and getting lots of good rest.
- Reach out to your health care provider if stress is affecting your daily activities for many days in a row.
Optum, the sister company to UnitedHealthcare, is opening its emotional support helpline. It provides access to specially trained mental health specialists. This number is toll-free and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free to anyone in need. Call 866-342-6892 if you need help.
For more ideas on staying occupied during this time, read 5 Ways to Fight the Coronavirus Blues.
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