By Renee Bossart/American Red Cross of Alaska
Anxiety related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a normal response to all of the changes you are experiencing around you. For many of us, our typical day-to-day routine has been interrupted, and our movement restricted. So, these changes naturally bring about some anxiety. To help alleviate your stress, here is a list of things you can do:
Avoid sensationalism. It can be challenging to tell the difference between speculation and facts on many popular websites and social media pages. Instead, get the latest information from official sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Follow the current CDC health guidelines and recommendations. Keeping up-to-date through the CDC website will allow you access to all of their current recommendations. Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands often – especially when returning home from a public space – and wear a face covering while in public settings.
Keep your thoughts grounded in reality. When we are in a difficult situation, our minds may automatically run through all of the worst case scenarios. The worst possible outcome isn’t likely to occur if you are following precautions, and worrying about it will only exhaust you. You will not have the energy to respond appropriately if you are exhausted, so try your best to stay grounded in the present.
Practice breathing techniques. If you find yourself anxious, try focusing on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths and explore the feeling of your lungs expanding in your chest and your heart rate slowing. After a few minutes, you should feel noticeably calmer.
Spend time doing calming activities. Take on a puzzle or try a new painting project. You know best what will be both enjoyable and relaxing for you. Make time for these activities in your day.
Take a walk outside. The outdoors is not off-limits, as long as you are physically distancing yourselves from others. Go out and take a ten-minute walk. If you can’t go outside, do some quick exercises in your home. Exercise releases the endorphins needed to help combat some of the anxiety you may be feeling.
Connect with friends and family. You don’t have to be lonely. There are ways to connect with loved ones virtually and over the phone. Perhaps there are people you haven’t spoken to recently – call them up and reconnect.
Take the American Red Cross of Alaska’s community training called Coping in Today’s World. This course is being offered on April 22 in a virtual format and is free of charge for you and your loved ones. In the course, participants will learn how to build their own resilience and the ability to recover quickly after difficult times. To RSVP for the 6:30 – 8:40 p.m. session, please send an email to Paul Bossart, Mat-Su Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Lead at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and the number of additional participants that plan on joining this virtual session with you.
With so much change going on around us, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through these changes and this challenging time alone. Practice your healthy coping skills, and learn some new ones with the Red Cross.