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7 ways to manage your stress during the COVID-19 outbreak

Health Promotion Coordinator Elizabeth Allen
by Elizabeth Allen03/30/2020 11:43 a.m.
Updated: 03/30/2020

Do you feel overwhelmed or anxious? 

It’s normal to feel stressed, confused or even angry during a health crisis. You or a loved one may feel overwhelmed or anxious about COVID-19.

Everyone reacts to stress a little differently and we aren’t always at our best. High stress levels can be damaging to our immune system.

You can take steps to manage your own stress and help others in order to keep our communities healthy and strong. 

Take a break from the news.

Take a break from watching, reading, listening to news stories. Constantly hearing about the health emergency can be upsetting. Limit yourself to checking updates to once or twice each day. When you do check for news, make sure you get accurate information from a reliable source. 

Take care of your body.

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut down on foods with lots of sodium or fat. Exercising regularly can also help reduce stress. Even if your favorite gym is closed, you can still go for a walk around the neighborhood. The internet has some great at-home workout ideas. Yoga or stretching can be helpful too since our muscles become tight when we are overly stressed. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids. 

Been Here Rocks

Take time to unwind.

Read a book or watch a movie. Perhaps you like to draw or paint. Play a video game online with your friends. Making time to do something relaxing or fun can take your mind off stressful thoughts. 

Meditate.

Meditation increases calmness and relaxation. There are many different types of meditation, but they all have four things in common: 

  • A quiet place with few distractions. 
  • A comfortable posture (sitting, standing or lying down are all fine).
  • Something to focus your attention (sound of your breathing, a set of words or a guiding voice).
  • An open attitude.

Try sitting in a quiet room, close your eyes and focus on the natural rhythm of your own breathing. Clear your mind and make your breathing regular and smooth. You may have thoughts that distract your focus. That’s okay, meditation takes some practice but it can help you feel more relaxed and calmer. You may find it easier to focus on a person’s voice. There are free guided meditations on YouTube you can try. Meditation can be as short or as long as you want. If you’re new to it, try a short 10-minute session.

Talk to a friend or family member.

Call a friend or family member and talk about how you’re feeling. Sharing your concerns and feelings with someone you trust can make you feel better. Maintaining healthy relationships and supporting each other is what makes our communities strong.

Sleep.

Sleep seven to nine hours every night. Sleep lowers stress and improves overall mental health. Your body recovers while you sleep, so getting plenty of sleep will keep you healthy too. Avoid watching TV, laptops or cell phones an hour before bed. The light from these devices can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Reducing caffeine, alcohol and other drug use will help you get better sleep.

Check on each other.

It can sometimes be difficult to recognize the signs of stress in ourselves. You should regularly check on people close to you. Look for common signs of high stress:

  • Feelings of numbness or disbelief.
  • Loss of appetite or energy.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Unusual mood-swings.
  • Difficulty concentrating. Anger or short-tempered.
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

If you or someone close to you feels overwhelmed or overly stressed and are unsure what to do, call the Disaster Distress Helpline. The National Disaster Distress Helpline offers 24/7 crisis counseling and emotional support for anyone experiencing distress or other mental health concerns because of COVID-19. Call (800) 985-5990; press "2" for Spanish) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.  This hotline is staffed by trained counselors from a group of crisis centers across the U.S. 

More resources

  • Call the Pierce County Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: (800) 576-7764.
  • Crisis Text Line: 741741 (mobile fees waived)
  • Other mental health resources: Call 211 
  1. Updated: 03/31/2020
Health Promotion Coordinator Elizabeth Allen

by Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth leads our behavioral health efforts to promote better mental well-being.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.