In these uncertain times, we must take care of our physical health perhaps in ways we never had to before. However, we cannot ignore our emotional health.
During times of crisis, emotional health may suffer as well. Depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, domestic violence, child abuse and suicide may increase when there are disasters that cause significant upheaval. But there is good news. We can bolster our emotional health and build our resilience towards adversity by taking steps now.
10 Tips to Help Manage Stress
Here are 10 tips to help manage your stress during this pandemic.
#1 – Practice self-awareness – Check your emotional temperature too!
Each day, literally ask yourself, “How am I doing?” If you find yourself feeling more tense or depressed, then make a change to address those feelings that day. Ignoring our emotional health tends to only make things worse.
#2 – Develop a schedule/routine.
There’s a lot we aren’t able to control with COVID-19 but making a daily schedule to give us structure and purpose throughout the day, may give us a sense of calm and order.
#3 – Exercise.
There are few strategies to directly combat the COVID-19 virus, but in general exercise has been proven to boost the immune system, improve mood and decrease anxiety. Exercise does not have to be in a gym. Taking a walk, stretching, doing yard work or housework can count towards moving our bodies to promote wellness.
#4 – Practice good nutrition and hydration.
Food is still is our body’s major fuel source-bad stuff in, bad stuff out. Even though we may lean towards eating more comfort foods, it is still important to try and eat healthy. Some people may find themselves having increased heart rate, headache or dizziness and may believe these are symptoms of a major health issue when in fact they may be symptoms of dehydration. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
#5 – Practice restorative health measures.
Restorative health measure are things we can do that make us feel better-sometimes instantly. Examples of these include meditation, talking to friends or family, having quiet time, listening to music, dancing, reading, taking a walk, gardening, prayer, etc. Building these activities into our daily schedule help to build our resilience and combat anxiety.
#6 – Limit media exposure.
Listening to media sources can be very helpful in getting timely important information. However, too much can exacerbate our worries. Monitor closely the effects of media on your emotional health to find the right balance.
#7 – Get sleep.
Sleep helps to restore our body processes and gives our mind a chance to rest. Be careful with caffeine beverages, watching TV, or using social media too close to bedtime as these may interfere with a restful night’s sleep.
#8 – Take a break.
If you find yourself feeling more distracted, overwhelmed or restless-take a break. That might include a walk to dispel excess energy or use a meditation app to help bring on instant calm. Many of us are working longer and harder than typical since COVID-19. However, we all have a limit and taking a break could give you the extra push to get to the finish line. This is a marathon not a sprint!
#9 – Keep 6 feet physical distance, but maintain positive social connections.
COVID-19 presents a unique challenge of balancing the need to maintain a safe physical distance from others while keeping meaningful social connections. Luckily, we have high tech and low tech ways to help assist with this. There are multiple video platforms to connect with others.
Many of us remember calling each other up on the phone- it is a great way to connect! Even try mailing a letter or care package to someone special-they will likely consider it quite a treat. Remember not only are we all in this together but we need each other to make it through this.
#10 – Seek help.
If you check your emotional temperature and realize that you are not doing well and your emotional health is not where it should be, seek help. There are people ready to help you. Here’s a list of resources available to provide emotional support.
- National Parent Helpline for emotional support and parent advocacy: 1-855-427-2736 (Monday – Friday noon – 9 am).
- Beacon Program (Orange County) for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault: 984-974-0470; Pager 123-6880
- Interact (Wake County) for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault: 919-828-7740
- Hopeline (Raleigh) for crisis intervention and suicide prevention: 919-231-4525
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
- Anxiety Treatment:
- Depression Treatment:
About Nerissa Price, MD
Dr. Nerissa Price is the medical director for WakeMed PATH and Behavioral Health Community Case Management team & has a psychiatric private practice.