• Margaret Aghaeepour, PsyD

Coping with Stress and Anxiety During COVID19 Pandemic



The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be stressful for many of us. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions during this pandemic.


According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include the following signs of distress:


Common Physical Symptoms:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.

  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Worsening of chronic health problems

  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.


Common Feelings:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.

  • Anger or short-temper.

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

  • Concern about protecting oneself from the virus because they are at higher risk of serious illness.

  • Concern that regular medical care or community services may be disrupted due to facility closures or reductions in services and public transport closure.

  • Feeling socially isolated, especially if they live alone or are in a community setting that is not allowing visitors because of the outbreak.

  • Guilt if loved ones help them with activities of daily living.

  • Increased levels of distress if they:

  1. Have mental health concerns before the outbreak, such as depression.

  2. Live in lower-income households or have language barriers.

  3. Experience stigma because of age, race or ethnicity, disability, or perceived likelihood of spreading COVID-19.


Common Behavior Concerns:

  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.


From my clinical experience, clients have also experienced increased sense of confusion, concerns about the economy and job market, as well as interpersonal conflicts with their partners.


To combat stress during this pandemic, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the following tips:


  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  2. Take care of your body.

  3. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

  4. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

  5. Exercise regularlyget plenty of sleep.

  6. Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  7. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  8. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.


Please consult with a mental health professional if you have experienced these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them. For more information, please visit CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

 

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