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The words on everyone’s lips these days are all about the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19. This is no surprise, since it has impacted society on a global scale. Many people have lost their jobs, others have been put on temporary leave, some are still working – it’s difficult to attempt to go about a normal routine with our world being turned on its head. Unfortunately, many people also know someone who has been impacted by this virus directly or indirectly, whether it be self-quarantining due to suspected illness or actually catching the illness itself. It’s difficult for many people to even leave their house, as fear and stress can cripple people as easily as a virus. Everyone reacts to stressful situations differently, but it’s important to know how to deal with stress in order to cope with such a monumental world event.

How to Deal with Stress

According to the CDC website, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include worry or fear about your health and the health of your loved ones, abnormal sleeping and eating patterns, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, worsening mental health and chronic health problems, and an increased reliance on alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. People who may react more strongly and become more stressed about this crisis can include those more at risk for severe illness (such as the elderly or immune-compromised), children and teens, health-care providers who are on the front lines dealing with this crisis, and people who have mental health conditions that can be exacerbated by stress. It is crucial in times like these to take care of yourself as much as you are able, and to avoid causing any unnecessary stress on yourself. Tips to cope with stress include:

1. Be sure to take breaks from reading, watching, or listening to the news or social media. Repeatedly exposing yourself to content about the pandemic can be distressing and can cause your stress levels to rise. Don’t oversaturate yourself with information about COVID-19 if it only makes you feel worse. It’s important to stay up to date with what is going on, but you must also make sure that you aren’t taking in more content and information about the pandemic than you need to.

2. Look after your body. It can be difficult to find the motivation to do much with thoughts of the pandemic swirling in our minds, but this is exactly why you should make the time to look after your body through deep breathing exercises, meditation, eating healthy meals, exercising plenty, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol or drugs. Ensuring that your body is running smoothly will help keep you sharp and able to make smart decisions regarding your own well-being.

3. Take time to relax. This can be difficult to achieve, especially if you are stressed, but taking the time to do something you enjoy like reading a favorite book or watching a TV show is important for your mental health.

4. Don’t isolate yourself – at least, don’t socially isolate yourself. Physical distancing is still in effect and must be adhered to, but this doesn’t mean that you must stop interacting with your friends and loved ones. You can still do this through phone calls, texting, and Facetime (or other forms of video conferencing) if you’re craving that face-to-fact interaction while still adhering to physical distancing protocols.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone; we are all going through this turbulent time together. So, be sure to take the time to look after your physical and mental health in order to help cope with the stress of the coronavirus lockdown.

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