The rapid progress of the coronavirus disease 2019 has changed the way we live and work. Since a lot about this pandemic and how it will affect us is still unknown, it may take a toll on our mental health. Alarming and sensationalized news headlines leave people overwhelmed by strong emotions such as fear, stress, anger, sadness. Besides their own, many people are fearful and worried about the health of their loved ones as well. We have prepared some practical advice on how to manage stress in the current situation.
1. Seek reliable information sources
While it is essential to stay up to date with the current situation, it is best to seek information from reliable sources, such as the World Health Organisation or the local health authorities.
2. Take a break from the news
Hearing about the pandemic continuously can be upsetting and lead to depression, anxiety, and sleep patterns disruption. Limit the time spent watching the news. That includes social media browsing as well. Organize your day in such a manner that you check the news only once or twice a day. Dedicate a maximum of 15 minutes to reading the latest information.
3. Take time to exercise
Physical activities play a crucial role in maintaining mental health and managing worry, anxiety, or depression. If you can leave your house, consider walking in nature, however, keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from other people. If a walk is not applicable in your daily routine, there are still many video tutorials you can find on the internet that can teach you how to work out in the comfort of your home.
4. Keep a healthy diet
Keeping a healthy diet improves your well-being. The importance of proper nutritional intake is explored in multiple studies, thus consider a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, and fish. In addition to that, try avoiding processed food and limiting saturated fats, sodium and added sugars in your cooking or the prepared foods you eat.
5. Maintain proper sleep hygiene
Feeling stressed, anxious, and worried may lead to changes in our sleep patterns. Try maintaining proper sleep hygiene. Daytime nap should not exceed 20-30 minutes, and before your nighttime sleep, try not to use electronic devices such as your phone, the TV, your computer.
6. Stay connected
If you feel lonely, talk to people you trust and share your feelings. During this challenging time, learn how to defeat your daunting thoughts with mindfulness. Enhance your resilience to stress. Should it become challenging to deal with it by yourself, consider consulting a specialist. Check within your local community, in this time of trouble, there are many medically trained personnel offering help for free.
It is important to keep in mind that the outbreak will eventually, pass. Things will get better. In the meantime, the best we can do is to maintain good hygiene and live a healthy lifestyle. It is time to limit our public social life and leave physical contact pending by the time this all is long gone and forgotten.
- World Health Organization – Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak (6 March 2020)
- Parletta, N., Zarnowiecki, D., Cho, J., Wilson, A., Bogomolova, S., Villani, A., Itsiopoulos, C., Niyonsenga, T., Blunden, S., Meyer, B., Segal, L., Baune, B. and O’Dea, K. (2017). A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED). Nutritional Neuroscience, pp.1-14.
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)