It’s strange times with stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and wearing masks out in public. Sometimes it feels like we will never see our friends and family or go out to dinner or for drinks again – and that can be really lonely. The uncertainty of when we can do this, and what the world will look like on the other side of this pandemic is anxiety-wrought (it is for me, at least). We’re afraid for the health of our loved ones and ourselves. Many people have found themselves in the role of teacher for their children, and there’s stress around if you’re doing it well, and what the hell is “new math??” Some people are now working from home and have been thrust into adapting to new ways of going to business and learning new technology like video calling programs. While others have been furloughed or terminated and are stressed about when they can get back to work. If you are an essential worker, you are overworked and exhausted.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
“Self-Care” has been a big buzz word over the last couple of years. A hashtag to get likes. But now, more than ever, it is crucial to be taking care of yourself. Whether you already suffer from depression or anxiety, or these feelings are new to you, it is very real, and making sure you are treating yourself well will help.
Ways to cope with stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. I limit myself to one hour a day to get an update.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Get outside and breathe fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun on your face (with sunscreen, of course!)
- Keep to a daily routine (even if you aren’t working from home)
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drugs
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy., maybe ones that you haven’t done in a while because there wasn’t time.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Chances are, they are feeling the same way.
We are all in this together, and I believe that we will come out on the other side stronger, better, with a new appreciation for the things we’ve taken for granted.