Editor’s note: The News + Record’s three-part series about stress in the age of COVID-19 wrapped up in last week’s edition. This story — drawn from a video project on the subject by CN+R Digital Intern Caroline Watkins — summarizes strategies to cope with, and mitigate, stress.
The coronavirus crisis has sent shockwaves around the world. In a time of stress and uncertainty, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
“What people should know first and foremost is that it’s really normal and really common to feel stressed during this time,” Dr. Jonathan S. Abromowitz said. Abromowitz is a UNC-Chapel Hill professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the UNC Anxiety Clinic.
It’s also important, however, to develop healthy habits to help manage your stress. As part of the Chatham News + Record’s ongoing stress series, we created an interactive digital guide that outlines seven ways that you can cope with stress during COVID-19 and beyond, which is now live on our website. The guide includes the seven following ways that you can mitigate stress in your daily life:
1. Be a smart news consumer
When it comes to staying informed during the pandemic, it’s important to ensure that you are getting information from trustworthy sources. Reference government sources such as the CDC and NCDHHS and established news sources. Don’t trust everything that you see on social media.
2. Know when to go offline
While it’s important to stay informed, it’s also imperative for your mental health to recognize when it’s time to unplug.
“Obviously, it’s overwhelming,” Alexis Gunipero Bunt, a licensed clinical worker, said. “You’re inundated with this kind of information, whether it’s false or accurate. I think it’s really important right now to prioritize that self-care. So, I really think that means specifically taking breaks from the radio and social media.”
3. Find ways to get help
The pandemic has affected many different aspects of our lives, such as closing down schools and moving our work online. Changes to our daily lives can leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Never be ashamed to get help where you can. In our digital interactive guide, you will find a number of resources that are available at your disposal.
4. Try yoga and meditation
Experts say that yoga and meditation are also great ways to relieve stress and anxiety. According to Mayo Clinic, “Yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate.”
In addition to trying an online yoga class or doing your own flow at home, a simple breathing exercise can also help calm your mind.
“If you can get yourself in the moment, you can sometimes begin to relax that stress,” Lexie Wolf, owner of Yoga Garden Pittsboro said. “And if you’re so anxious that your breath is actually elevated or fast, just mindfully flowing that breath, taking deep inhales and exhales, can get you to begin to relax.”
5. Keep a normal routine
In a time where many things are unpredictable, it may help to keep a daily routine to achieve a sense of normalcy.
“I think on top of making sure that you disconnect each day and connect with nature, also try to have a schedule to the best of your ability that’s balanced in three areas: work, connection to others and then self-care,” Katelyn Jakobsen, licensed clinical mental health counselor associate said.
In order to keep a set routine, it may help to keep a planner nearby to make sure that you’re staying on track.
Kristin Krippa, a psychological associate, encourages others to, “Get outside as much as possible and exercise; doing those two things together is critical. It’s remarkable how much it can reduce stress.”
Try running around your neighborhood after a long day’s work or exploring local trails in Chatham County.
7. Stay connected with friends
It might be difficult to get together with friends right now, but there are still a number of ways to interact with them virtually. Schedule a Zoom “happy hour,” host a virtual game night with a service such as Jackbox Games or even try snail mail.
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