Tips For Coping With Stress During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created a stressful situation for everybody. We are all trying to cope with worsening news, worrying about how to stay mentally and physically healthy during a crisis.

Social distancing

It can be difficult to sort through the news and figure out what you need to know. At the same time, it’s important not to overload on the news because that can add to your stress. Here are some pointers to help you.

Tip: Read Information from Authority Sources

There’s a lot of information on the news about COVID-19 and not all of it is accurate. The best sources of information are the medical experts who are on the front line fighting the virus. These include the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.

Some of the things they recommend include:

  • Practicing social distancing: staying at home whenever possible, avoiding places where people gather and maintaining a distance of six feet from other people. So important!
  • Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, making sure to wash between your fingers and under your nails. You can watch this video for a demonstration.
  • Avoiding touching your face, head, and neck as much as possible.
  • If you have symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, which include a fever and a dry cough, call your doctor before going in.

Washing hands during Coronavirus Pandemic

The people most at risk of severe cases requiring hospitalization are people over the age of 60, those with compromised immune systems, and anybody with an underlying respiratory condition, such as emphysema, asthma, or COPD. Many supermarkets are offering special shopping hours for high-risk people to minimize their risk of exposure.

It may be helpful to steer clear of 24-hour news and focus on hobbies and other activities to keep your mind off your worries. Watching continuous coverage may make it difficult to manage your anxiety.

Tip: Eat a Healthy Diet

In times of stress, it may be tempting to indulge in comfort foods and unhealthy snacks, but your body will thank you if you eat a healthy diet that includes:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Vegetarian sources of protein
  • Healthy fats

You should limit your intake of sugar and processed foods. A diet that is rich in the nutrients your body needs will help to support your immune system and give you a better chance of avoiding illness or – if you do get sick – minimizing the severity of your experience.

Eating Healthy At Home

This may also be a good time to try out some new recipes. There are plenty of websites with healthy recipes you can get for free. Here are some of the best options.

You may also want to check out cooking demonstrations and instructional videos on YouTube. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Clean and Delicious has hundreds of videos demonstrating how to make healthy food.
  • The Bon Appètit test kitchen is another great resource for delicious, healthy recipes (plus general entertainment – their videos are what would happen if a workplace comedy met a cooking show.)
  • Epicurious does a great job of demonstrating basic cooking techniques and has a wide array of recipes.

Another idea is to choose a kind of cooking you’ve always wanted to master, whether it’s baking bread or making the perfect curry, and focus on that. By the time social distancing is over, you’ll be able to show off your new skills at a dinner party!

Tip: Get Some Exercise

A lot of people on social media are lamenting the fact that their gyms and fitness centers have closed due to the pandemic. Since exercise plays a big role in your overall health, it’s important to get your body moving every day. Here are some suggestions.

  • Find fitness videos on YouTube and work out at home.
  • Check to see if your gym is offering online classes.
  • Try one of our workouts, which you can find here.
  • Download a fitness app to your phone.
  • Go for walks or runs outside in nature.

Going for a run

If you’re lucky enough to have exercise equipment at home, then use it. Strenuous physical exercise keeps your heart and lungs healthy. You may also want to consider practicing Yoga, which builds strength and flexibility while reducing stress.

Aim to work out three or four times a week, even if the workout is just a long walk in the sun. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating moods.

Tip: Minimize Your Stress

Even people who aren’t normally anxious may be experiencing higher-than-usual levels of stress and anxiety due to the pandemic. If you are already taking medicine to manage your anxiety, you should continue to do so. Make sure you have enough medicine on hand.

Of course, medication isn’t the only way to manage anxiety. Here are some other things to try.

  1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. You may be working from home or not working – and the kids may not be in school – but it’s not a good idea to let your regular schedule lapse. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. It will help you to stay well-rested and make it easier to manage your stress.
  2. Practice mindful breathing. Here are a few breathing patterns to try.
    1. The box breath. Breathe in through your nose and count to four. Then, hold your breath for the same count, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold your breath again, then repeat the sequence.
    2. The 4-7-8 breath. This is a very effective breathing technique to manage anxiety. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat up to four times.
    3. Breath counting. For this exercise, simply breathe in for a count of one and then out for a count of one. Then breathe in for two and out for two, continuing up to a count of 10.
  3. Use a simple technique to ward off panic. This tip comes from psychologist Kristin Neff, who suggests taking your right hand and making it into a fist. Press the first against your heart and hold it there. We like this technique because, with social distancing in place, it mimics the feeling you get when someone hugs you.
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes or more every day. The health benefits of meditation are well-documented and even a short practice each day can make a big difference in your stress.
  5. Take advantage of online stress-relief resources. These may include:
    1. Listening to relaxing music or nature sounds on YouTube.
    2. Writing about your feelings on social media or an online forum.
    3. Trying online therapy from a site such as TalkSpace.
  6. Start a new hobby. Some hobbies that promote relaxation include coloring, knitting, crocheting, and gardening.
  7. Strike a balance between alone time and social time. If you live with other people, make sure you respect one another’s space and privacy. If you live alone, set up times to Skype or FaceTime with your friends to ensure you feel connected.

Practicing Social Distancing

It may be that we need to practice social distancing for some time to avoid spreading the virus. It’s important to establish healthy habits now to maintain your emotional equilibrium.

Tip: Find Creative Ways to Spend Your Time

Whether you live alone or with other people, you’ll need to find ways to ward off boredom during this time. Here are some suggestions for things that might help.

Self Quarantine

Finally, remember that a big part of coping with the stress and isolation of any difficult situation is having a positive attitude as much as possible. It’s normal to feel isolated, sad and scared, but ultimately, you can decide whether you want to let negative feelings win the day.

From all of us at Trustworthy Fitness, we are with you during this difficult time, and we will continue to provide the information you need to live a healthy and stress-free life. We will all get through this.