Rainawithchronicillness is pleased to have a special guest blogger, Ralph Macey, a professional writer, and a medical health/patient care coordinator at Savantcare since 2014. Ralph writes articles on all mental health-related subjects. He holds a degree and two professional certifications in his field and continues to upgrade his knowledge with additional classes and seminars. He has provided mental health consultations and private fitness instructions for free in his local community. Below is an article he wrote about how to cope with stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
Feeling stressed and anxious during the pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic is creating stress and anxiety in people all over the world. The fear and anxiety regarding a new disease can be overwhelming and may cause strong emotional turbulence in your mind. Apart from that, a good number of people also change their lifestyle to stay home and to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This situation can be considered as an isolation period from society, from friends, and even from family members. As a result, people can experience severe stress and anxiety throughout the entire lockdown period. Are you feeling stressed and anxious during the pandemic?
If you also feel stressed and anxious during this pandemic, you should take measures to manage your stress and anxiety as soon as possible. During these tough times, people would be required to help each other to overcome such difficult situations.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is – “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
Anxiety disorders have already ruined 40 million lives in the United States. It is one of the most common mental illnesses here. Unfortunately, only 36.9% of patients with an anxiety disorder receive proper treatment.
If you want to cope with the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic, you may need to identify the symptoms first.
Types of anxiety disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders that people may experience during the pandemic. Below is a list of different types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Panic disorder or Agoraphobia
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder (hypochondria)
- Social anxiety disorder
Signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder:
- Muscle tension
- Muscle aches
- Sudden numbness
- Excessive tension
- Restlessness or agitation
- Sleepy Sickness
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling edgy
- Lack of concentration
- Racing thoughts
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
- Trembling frequently
- Feeling disconnected from others
- Apprehension about going to public spaces
How to reduce anxiety and stress
Consult a professional and follow proper medication
First of all, you may need to consult a doctor and discuss your symptoms. Mental health experts may suggest a few antidepressants to reduce anxiety, such as – escitalopram and fluoxetine. Doctors may also suggest a few anticonvulsant medications if you experience epilepsy. Most of the time a low-dose antipsychotic drug and anxiolytic can be helpful to reduce anxiety.
You might opt for psychotherapy and undergo proper counseling. Mental health experts will understand how to proceed and treat your anxiety issues. But know this, it won’t be cured in a day. You need to be patient and believe in your doctor.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another effective method of psychological treatment that can treat several mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, substance abuse, and many more.
Stay connected to your loved ones
To fight anxiety and stress, it is important to believe in yourself and find or create your support system. It is quite difficult to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with anxiety. Due to the lockdown, people remain trapped inside their houses. This is one of the major causes of loneliness which may trigger stress and anxiety.
Due to severe anxiety and stress, you might feel less interested in talking with others. But you should do the opposite and stay connected to other people as much as possible. You won’t feel stressed or helpless if you reach out to others and help them. Talk to your friends and relatives via video chat or social media. Your loved ones care about you. Make new friends, they will help improve your mental health.
Maintain your day-to-day activities and follow a healthy routine
Having a healthy routine can be helpful to give a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. This way, you may reduce your stress levels, and lower anxiety. Initiate healthy habits such as – eating healthy meals, physical exercising (e.g., walking, stretching, running, cycling), follow proper sleep timing, and do things you enjoy.
Reduce the consumption of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, etc. You should also avoid alcohol and smoking cigarettes. You may try these foods – Salmon, Green tea, Turmeric, Yogurt, Chamomile, Dark chocolate, etc. Drink plenty of water, usually, people drink less water when they are at home. So, drink as much as possible to remove toxins from your body and keep your kidneys healthy.
For staying active and keeping bad feelings away from your mind, you should do regular exercise, and get enough sleep. A proper workout will keep you in shape and also keep your brain cells active. You may try meditation or yoga to get a good night’s sleep every day.
Try to get outside of your walls at least once a day. Go for a walk in your garden, and get some fresh air while enjoying the sunlight. If you have a pool you may relax over there with your family.
Try to spend at least 1 hour with your kids. You may help them with their homework, or play with them in the garden. You may tell them how to take care of themselves during this pandemic by teaching them a few important lessons.
You may suggest they wear a mask when they are outside, frequently washing their hands with soap and water – especially before eating, cleaning their room every day, wearing clean clothes, taking a bath every day, etc. Spending quality time with kids can help you reduce stress and anxiety more than anything.
Stay informed but limit exposure to social media
It’s essential to stay informed about the situation around you, especially during such a crisis. You need to follow the safety measures suggested by the government and do your part to slow COVID – 19 spreading. But through news and social media, there’s a lot of fake news and misinformation spreading in the community. This fake news and information may create panic and trigger anxiety and stress in the citizens.
It’s essential to verify what you read and watch these days. Stick to trustworthy sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local health authorities. Limiting your TV time, such as constantly watching the news and social media feeds can increase anxiety rather than reducing it. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t watch news and updates on coronavirus. You may watch 30 mins regularly, no more than that.
When you use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform to share your views, make sure you verify any news that you share with your friends. We all need to do our part to avoid spreading rumors and creating an unnecessary panic that may cause severe mental health disorders such as anxiety, stress, or depression.