How to Stay Calm and Reduce Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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The novel coronavirus pandemic may be overwhelming for some people. However, constant fear and anxiety can do more harm than good for your health. This can also impact your sleeping or eating patterns. Coping with stress and anxiety in a positive way will get you back on track and make you stronger, happier, healthier and more productive.

It’s important to take the current crisis seriously, but you should also take a step back to reconnect with yourself. Here are some tips on how to remain calm and reduce stress during the outbreak.

Be Prepared, but Don’t Panic

Information on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading hard and fast. Some of it is true, but some of it is false. To prevent believing misinformation about COVID-19, stick to trusted sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These groups provide scientific reports and up-to-date news. Using information from credible sources can help you plan better and reduce panic.

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Speaking of panic, many experts suggest we avoid panic-buying (purchasing unusually large amounts of goods). As you may have heard, people have been stockpiling toilet paper and hand soap, leaving shelves empty at grocery stores and causing more panic. However, there won't be a shortage, if everyone only takes what they need. If you have two weeks’ worth of food and supplies, you can stop stocking up. It will help make a stressful time a little easier. Plus, it will benefit your wallet and your community.

Take a Break from COVID-19 News

It may seem hard to escape from all the news coverage about COVID-19. However, stepping away from your phone or computer can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the crisis. Staying informed is good, but excessive watching, reading or listening to negative news can cause harmful effects.

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Too much of the news can produce fear and anxiety, but managing your exposure to the coverage can help reduce stress during these tough times. Don't let the news overload you. Protect yourself by taking back control and limiting your media consumption.

Moderation is the key. Many phones have tools to limit your screen time. On iPhones, you can use Screen Time (in the Settings page) to set time limits for apps. Android devices also have timers that turn screens gray to remind users to get off their phones. The app will be disabled and won’t open for the rest of the day unless you disable the timer.

Make Time to Relax

During the weekend, we usually engage in activities to help us unwind. Why can't we schedule these activities on weekdays too? If you usually decompress with a comedy or a book on the weekend, try making this part of your routine on weekdays as well.

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To reduce stress and anxiety, work on some things that give you joy. Focusing on bringing your energy up (like you usually do on the weekends) will help during this challenging time. This could involve self-care activities, exercising or talking on the phone with friends or family. Some people suggest playing video games to help you relax, especially the recent Animal Crossing: New Horizons from Nintendo. According to reviewers, it’s a great way to unwind and escape from reality. Plus, you can play with friends.

Stay Connected with Others

Remember, you're not alone. Many countries encourage social distancing, but you can still keep in touch with friends, family, co-workers and classmates, even if you can’t physically be with them. That’s the real purpose of all this technology we have! Try talking on the phone, texting, chatting, facetiming or setting up Google hangouts. Continue communicating with the people you trust. Express your concerns and feelings.

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You might feel uncertain during the pandemic, but turning to the people you love can help you properly deal with the issue. People need positive support to get through difficult times, and this is definitely the case.

It's also a great opportunity to build your relationships. If you have more free time during quarantine, use the time to strengthen the bond with your friends or family. We're all just trying to get through the COVID-19 situation together.

Look Out for One Another

Helping others gives us a good feeling. According to TIME Magazine, it's the key to happiness. If you see your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors struggling, give them some relief. It's a great way for people to stay united during difficult times.

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Some people suggest writing letters because it's a nice, personal gesture. Other people recommend running errands for those in need, with no questions asked. For instance, if your elderly and immunocompromised neighbors have trouble getting groceries or prescriptions, you can pick some up and drop them off in front of their door. Supporting others reminds people that they're not alone. It also makes more people (including yourself) happier.

Find Other Topics to Talk About

It's easy for conversations to surround COVID-19, but it's harmful if that's all you're talking about. Try switching the subject. Accurately using your support system can be helpful during emotionally high times.

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The news is already amplifying your worries. Why not talk about something else? Stay in touch with friends, and discuss food, art, movies, music, exercising, hobbies and pop culture. Share some of your favorite home workouts, stress-reducing techniques and breathing techniques. Take the time to explore new apps, live feeds and virtually tour museums together. For instance, the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides live underwater webcams of its animals you can enjoy during the closure. These types of discussions can keep you distracted and ease stress.

Reach Out for Professional Help

If you're feeling extremely nervous or sad, it may help to speak with a mental health professional. Mental health providers have the skills to help individuals confront stress and anxiety. Everyone has different worries and fears, and mental health providers are trained and experienced to support you in your specific situation.

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For those who already have therapy appointments, consider teletherapy options with your therapist instead of skipping them. While in quarantine, it's a good idea to talk about what you're going through. Having someone who will listen will provide you some comfort.

Many people have turned to online therapy to talk with real therapists on sites like Talkspace and BetterHelp. There are also free downloadable tools and worksheets. Others read self-help books or pop into online support groups.

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