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How To Manage Stress In Times of Uncertainty (Manage Your Coronavirus Stress)

Managing stress during times of uncertainty:  Tips for getting through the Coronvirus Covid19 Crisis Without Losing It

When everyone is freaking out and things happening in the world are scary, it’s hard to keep yourself from joining the panic.   Nothing feels normal and there is a lot of uncertainty.  

While it’s completely normal to feel concerned, there are some things you can do to minimize stress and take care of your mental health. 

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Limit Your Exposure To The News

I know it is tempting to check the news to see what is going on but if you spend a lot of time looking at the news you are likely to increase your anxiety rather than decreasing your anxiety. 

I rarely watch the news because, in general, the worse and more shocking the news is, the more viewers the news gets.  Because of that, the news is super negative.  

To keep a positive mindset I avoid the news and trust that in general if something is important, I’ll find out about it.  

That said, right now I find myself wanting to be glued to the news to see what’s going on.  Like somehow if I watch closely, I’ll know exactly what to do to keep my family safe.  

But when I spend too much time reading every little thing that is on the news, I find myself getting more and more anxious.  

One thing to always remember is that the news channels have an agenda.  The more people who check their websites or watch their channels, the more advertising money they get.  So, they need to make things SUPER shocking. 

If you evaluate news stories sometimes you’ll even see that some stories say nothing.  An example over the last few weeks was the one with the doctor who says “it’s going to get worse.”  Duh. That was when CV was just getting into the United States and I think most people expected it was going to get worse.  

The thing is, the doctor probably said a bunch of other things but it’s way more shocking for the news channel just to show him saying “it’s going to get worse.”  Thanks.  

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that very helpful.  

For now, I am limiting my news checking to twice a day as much as I can.  

Focus On Things That Make You Feel Good

If you continue to focus on the bad things going on, you’re going to feel more and more badly.

So, what do you do instead?  

If focusing on negative stuff makes you feel negative, how about focusing on positive stuff?  If you spend time focusing on things that you find enjoyable, you will have more positive feelings.  

Yesterday I felt anxious so I spent some time learning how to draw cute things with this book on my iPad.  Today I’m working on making stickers for my new Etsy shop. Since that’s fun for me, it is a great distraction and also makes me feel good.  

Getting your mind completely focused on something else can help.  When you’re hyper-focused on something, it’s less likely that the negative thoughts will creep in.  Given that one of my goals this year is to increase creativity, I’ve lined up some creative courses for me to focus on.  Here are some examples:

In each case I found courses with things that I not only have to learn but also do/participate in learning.  

Learning is always going to be my top way of feeling good and distracting myself but there are other ways that might fit you better.  

The key is to be around less people for the time being, but you can still spend time with your family if you are energized by relationships.  You can play board games or cards. Watch movies, especially things like comedies that will make you feel a different emotion.  

Other ideas:

  • Go for a walk
  • Talk on the phone
  • Listen to music 
  • Clean the house
  • Read a book
  • Draw
  • Write letters
  • Practice an instrument
  • Cook something new
  • Pull out a hobby
  • Binge watch Netflix
  • What other things can you think of that you enjoy doing but maybe don’t do as often as you’d like?

Do Activities To Relax

Similar to finding something that causes a different emotion, relaxation can be a great skill.  

You can’t feel anxious and relaxed at the same time, so practice relaxation activities such as:  

  • Take a bath
  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Mindful breathing
  • Take a nap

Limit Social Media

Sad to say it but social media can increase your anxiety.  Everyone is FREAKING out and all you see are things about CV.  Your email inbox is flooded with CV messages as well. There are brands you wouldn’t even imagine would have anything to do with health telling you about their CV plans.  It’s kind of weird.  

So, just like the news, social media can increase your anxiety because everywhere you look you see more and more worry from people.  It’s not helpful to join in on the freaking out. It will just increase your anxiety. 

If you find yourself getting sucked into negativity on social media, please go do something else.  The people on social media don’t know much more than you do.  

Or Unfollow People on Social Media

I get it though, social media has become such a part of your life that it’s hard to step away.  

That’s a topic for a different day.  It’s scary looking at your phone to see how much time you spent looking at social media.  EEK.  

Anyway, if you can’t stay away from social media, then one thing you can do is unfollow the people who are triggering your anxiety thoughts.  If your brother is posting a million gloom and doom posts, then unfollow him.

What does it mean to unfollow someone?  It means you won’t see their stuff unless you want to.  Their posts are not going to randomly show up in your feed, instead you’d have to search for their name to see what they say.  

How do you unfollow someone?  There are a few ways but the easiest might be when you see the person’s posts, click on the three little dots on the upper right corner of their post across from their name. Then you’ll see a dropdown and have to select “show 2 more.” From their you will either “snooze” the person’s post for a period of time or unfollow them.

Don’t worry, you can switch it back at any time by going to their profile and following them again.

Also, your brother isn’t going to know you unfollowed him.  

Even if he asks you about your thoughts on what he posted earlier and you don’t have a clue because you were blissfully unaware.  Facebook only shows your stuff to about 6% of your followers anyway…so it makes sense you wouldn’t see his stuff 😉 

I use this trick with nearly everything.  I have unfollowed EVERYONE except a few close friends.  This is so I don’t get sucked into the Facebook black hole when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  

Really!  I only see things from my family members, close friends, and from groups I want to follow.  It’s amazing.  

Watch How You Talk To Yourself

Anxiety is driven by our thoughts.  Something happens, you tell yourself a story about it, and then you have a feeling.  

Reality is scary enough without you making it worse with your stories. 

These are things like what ifs.  What if I am unable to get groceries?  What if this happens? What if that happens?  Try to stick with the present situation and try not to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. 

Worrying is kind of useless.  How many times have you worried about something that then never even happened?  You may have felt like you were prepared for the thing happening, but if you spent so much time fretting about it, that was a waste of time and energy.  

You’ll figure it out.  A couple of books that might be helpful come to mind for me:

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel

I recently wrote a blog post about limiting beliefs that applies here as well.  When you recognize that the things you’re afraid of aren’t even real, that your fears are based on your interpretations of the facts rather than the facts themselves, you can calm your anxieties.  There is a workbook I created you can get here as well.

Focus On What You Can Control

There are things you can do to stay as safe as possible.  Wash your hands, keep your distance, change your habits to be away from people if you can for awhile.  Most of all, be mindful of staying clean and taking care of yourself.   Here’s what the CDC says about this.

Prepare but don’t panic.  You can control whether you have your necessities (other than toilet paper right now I guess).  Stock up on some things but don’t be weird about it. I personally want everyone to use toilet paper, so I would like other people to have some too! 

Be creative.  If you run out of toilet paper, you probably have other things you could use.  If you’re not creative (you are) then I’m sure someone has written an article on what to do if you don’t have toilet paper so ask your friend Google.  Worrying about toilet paper won’t bring you toilet paper.  

I bought this as a paper towel substitute to clean up after my dogs and I wonder if it would work ;). Carefully so you don’t clog your toilet because then you’d have another problem.

Self Care

Most of all, it’s important to take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, be nice to yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up because you’re reacting better or worse than someone else. It doesn’t matter.  You do your best to get through it and keep doing things that are kind to yourself.  

Take care of yourself do the best you can to stay safe.  

Self care means not pursuing things that make you feel more afraid.  Self care means allowing yourself moments of fun even when it feels like you can’t.  Self care means taking care of your body and of your mind. Ultimately all of the above is self care.  

And remember when you take care of yourself you are also more available to take care of others.  

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