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Covid-19: Anxiety and stress prevention

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Anxiety and stress prevention – It is unprecedented and something very few people imagined happening just a few months ago. The rapid, global spread of the new Covid-19 virus has governments on every level scrambling to come up with protocols and issuing advisories to help stem the growing number of people contracting it. It is affecting our lives in many ways – and it is causing severe anxiety and stress amongst the general population. From the ‘toilet paper panic’, hoarding of food, disinfectants and supplies to new words or sayings such as ‘pandemic’, ‘social distancing’, ‘flattening the curve’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘quarantine’ or ‘lockdown’, as well as all the new measures, live updates, growing number of cases, the drastic change in our daily lives and schedules or loss of income – it can put one over the edge.

Chronic anxiety or stress could lead to serious health issues such as depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and more. It is reasonable to feel fear, we are in unchartered territory – but it is how we deal with it that is important, so as not lose perspective and fall into the depths of this fear. The CDC (Centers for disease control and prevention) has offered some good advice and suggestions to help those struggling with severe or growing anxiety and stress.

Anxiety and stress prevention

How to deal with COVID-19 stress

STRESS AND COPING: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people and the community you live in.

STRESS DURING AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE OUTBREAK CAN INCLUDE: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOURSELF: Taking care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself: take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

REDUCE STRESS IN YOURSELF AND OTHERS: Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. When you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help people feel less stressed and allow yourself to connect with them.

FOR PARENTS: Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children if they are better prepared. Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include excessive crying or irritation in younger children, returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting), excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits. Irritability and ‘acting out’ behaviors in teens, poor school performance or avoiding school, difficulty with attention and concentration, avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past, unexplained headaches or body pain, use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

THE MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD: Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share how you deal with your own stress so they can learn how to cope from you. Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand. Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities. Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members. If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself, please try to reach out to someone – even your healthcare provider.

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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