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Coping with Stress While Living Through a Pandemic

By April 19, 2020 August 31st, 2020 Blog

Stress and fears about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) can take an emotional toll, especially if you are already living with an anxiety disorder. With multiple cities and even entire countries currently shut down, it can be difficult to stay calm and cope with the stress and fear. For many people, the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. No one knows just how badly they will be affected or how long this will last. All of this makes it easy to catastrophize and spiral out into overwhelming panic and dread. However, there are many things people can do during this global pandemic to manage their anxiety and fears.

  1. Stay Informed

It is vital to stay informed on the coronavirus and pay close attention to what is happening in your community, so that you can follow the advised safety precautions. Doing so will help slow the spread of the virus, meanwhile keeping you and your community safe.  But be cautious, because there is a large amount of misinformation being communicated along with sensationalistic coverage that only feeds fear.

To help combat misinformation, make sure to stick to trustworthy sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), as well as your local public health authorities. It is also recommended to limit the number of times you check the media for virus-related updates. Constantly monitoring the situation can fuel anxiety. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, consider limiting your media consumption. It may be helpful to schedule a specific time frame for checking the media. It can also be helpful to avoid media entirely. Asking someone reliable to share important updates is an excellent way to still get information while avoiding media.

  • Focus on What You Can Control

There are so many things outside of our control, including how long this pandemic will last, how other people behave, when a vaccination will be available, and what is going to happen to our communities and loved ones. While this can be difficult to accept,  if people continuously focus on questions with unknown answers and circumstances outside of their control, they may end up feeling drained, anxious, and overwhelmed.

If you feel like you are getting caught up in the panic and fear of these unknowns, try to instead focus on the things you can control. At the top of this list is the ability to reduce your own personal risk, and in turn, the risk of the people you come into contact with. You can reduce your own risk by:

  • Washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Staying home and away from groups or crowds, even if you do not feel sick
  • Avoiding non-essential shopping and travel
  • Following any and all recommendations from health authorities
  • Stay connected

Even though most people are practicing social distancing, it is crucial for everyone to continue to connect with their family, friends, and communities.  People who tend to withdraw when depressed, stressed, or anxious, should schedule regular phone calls or video chats. Maintaining contact with your loved ones and support system can reduce the risk of depression and help ease stress and anxiety. Social media can also be helpful in keeping people connected, but as mentioned previously, social media can also be detrimental to your emotional well-being. For this reason, it is important to make note of how you are feeling. If there is something that makes your anxiety, depression, and/or stress worsen, stop doing it. Social media is not the only way to stay connected.

When connecting with people, do not let the pandemic dominate every conversation. Taking breaks from stressful thoughts about the coronavirus will give you something else to think about.

  • Take Care of Yourself

Even though none of us have ever experienced anything like this in our lifetime, the same tried-and-true stress management strategies can still be effective. These include:

  • Maintain a routine as best you can. Even though you may be stuck  at home, try to stick to your regular routine the best you can. This will help you maintain a sense of normalcy.
  • Take time out for activities you enjoy. Whether it be reading a book, making art, watching movies or TV, playing games, baking, or something else, doing something you enjoy can help take your mind off of your worries.
  • Be kind to yourself. Go easy on yourself if you are experiencing more anxiety, stress, and/or depression than usual. This situation is stressful for everyone; you are not alone.
  • Find ways to exercise. Staying active greatly reduces anxiety, stress, and helps manage your mood. Depending on your location, you may be able to go for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride. If you are unable to go outside, there are thousands of at home, equipment free workouts all over the internet to help keep you active.
  • Avoid self-medicating. Be careful that you are not using alcohol or other substances to deal with anxiety, stress, and/or depression.

Importance of Early Intervention and Treatment

While it may feel like the world has been turned upside down, remember to be patient. With time and a global effort, the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually pass. Moreover, while you may feel alone during these troubling times, you are not. Everyone is experiencing the same thing, and if you feel there is nothing that can help you, that is not true. Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) has been successful in treating those suffering from a wide variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and similar mental health diagnoses. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Normally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment. 

Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on bullying victims, combat vets, and others. 

If you feel you cannot get through this on your own, please contact ART International to learn more about the therapy or to find a therapist near you.

ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to Accelerated Resolution Therapy® for individuals suffering from trauma and other mental health diagnoses through innovative research and clinician training and education.