Pandemics like the one we are currently going through from the novel coronavirus, are stressful. Thousands of people have lost their lives, millions have gotten sick, and that’s just from the illness itself. The pandemic has harmed millions more people indirectly, through job losses, isolation, and food insecurity.
“We are facing a national trauma, whether it’s the fear of being infected or infecting someone else, or the economic downturn, and many people are isolated,” says Dr. Robert Leahy, an attending psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
It’s natural to experience some stress sometimes, but if left unchecked, it can lead to serious health consequences. According to the CDC, stress from Covid-19 can lead to:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
Coping during this crisis
If you’re experiencing depression or other problems due to the pandemic, there are ways you can cope. One of the best ways you can cope with fears about Covid-19 is to educate yourself. Having knowledge can make you feel less helpless. However if you find yourself obsessing it might be good to give yourself mental health breaks from media.
Covid-19 is a deadly disease, and should be taken seriously, but there’s a lot you can do to mitigate your risk. Wash your hands properly, wear a mask, and avoiding touching your face are all things you can do to help reduce your risk of contracting it.
Staying home is also important whenever possible, especially if you are in an at-risk category. If you do contract the coronavirus, there are now therapies and techniques to help treat it that were not previously available, such as using plasma from survivors to help fight the virus. And protocols involving steroids.
If you have lost your job, the government and also many companies are working hard to provide support systems to help. This includes increased unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and rent or debt relief.
Researching what you can do IF you lose your job, or reaching out if you’ve already lost it, can go a long way to easing anxiety.
Take mental health seriously
Discussing our mental health is still somewhat taboo, but it shouldn’t be. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, don’t be afraid to get help right away. If you are feeling suicidal, call 911 or an emergency suicide hot-line 800-273-8255.
If you are unable to cope with the mental stress from Covid-19, a therapist or counselor can be extremely helpful.
Even if you don’t feel unwell enough for a doctor, you can still take steps to ease your anxiety over the pandemic. Here are a few ways to get a handle on your anxiety, and cope with this rapidly spreading disease.
- Keep a schedule
You might feel a little thrown off if you’ve lost your job and no longer have to get up to an alarm, or no longer need to take the kids to school. Even though these changes have happened, set a routine for yourself and stick to it. It will make coping easier.
Exercising has a host of benefits to it. It makes you feel more positive about your body, improves your health, and releases feel good hormones that improve your mood. Exercising is a great way to cope with stress, so make it a daily habit. Start with 10 minutes of stretching in the morning if that is the best you can do.
- Reach out to friends
While throwing a party or getting together in person is risky, you can still write, Facetime and/or Zoom with your friends. Staying in contact with friends and family helps limit feelings of isolation. Surprisingly, just picking up the phone and having an old fashioned conversation can be enormously helpful to the psyche.
- Go out into nature
Spending time in a green space is one of the best natural stress relievers available. There have been multiple studies done on how spending time under trees or in nature can relieve stress, boost mood, and even improve immunity.
Steven D. Brand can help
Stress from Covid-19 is real. It is okay to feel anxious about it even if you are not normally easy to stress. These are frightening times, and it’s normal to feel stressed when the future is so uncertain.
If you would like to book an appointment, contact Steven D. Brand today.
Steven D Brand is a Roswell Therapist with over 35,000 clinical hours.
MSW, LCSW, ACSW