With the ongoing pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, are you finding it hard when it comes to coping with Coronavirus stress?
Have you been noticing a spike in your stress as a result of COVID-19? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. Pandemics are not declared lightly, and an increase in your stress is actually a normal response. However, not only is stress unpleasant, but it can also hinder your immunity. The World Health Organization emphasizes that preventative care plays a crucial role in fighting the Coronavirus, therefore, it’s helpful to boost your coping in an effort to improve your overall well-being.
Here are four strategies to help you maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Recognize your stress
Stress is a normal part of life. It is a natural response to an external pressure that disrupts your equilibrium. It often causes symptoms such as:
- Sadness, confusion, irritability, anger, uneasiness, and suicidal thoughts
- Reduced concentration, efficiency, and productivity
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Interpersonal problems (e.g., lies, defensiveness, communication concerns)
- Tension (e.g., headaches, jaw clenching, teeth grinding)
- Body pain (e.g., headaches, muscle spasms)
- Reduced energy (e.g., tiredness, weakness, fatigue)
- Sleeping problems (e.g., insomnia, nightmares)
The first important step to managing these symptoms is to recognize that they are related to stress. According to the Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence, the ability to recognize your emotional state is essential in order to understand and manage your emotions. Therefore, if you skip the phase of acknowledging that you are stressed, you impede your ability to manage your stress.
This notion may seem simple, but it’s often easier said than done. It’s common to miss the signs of stress early on, preventing your ability to handle them before they grow. Even if you notice these symptoms, it’s also tempting to think that you can manage them by brushing them under the rug. The danger in this tactic is that it doesn’t allow you to tackle the problem head-on, and the catalyst of time can cause you to miss the crucial moment to intervene before your stress becomes overwhelming.
If you have been noticing these symptoms since you learned about the Coronavirus, it is possible that you may be experiencing a normal stress response. Not only is it natural to be concerned about physical illness, but the uncertainty about a spreading virus can increase your stress level as well.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic to highlight the level of concern and spark measures of precaution. In a parallel process, your stress is doing the same for you as it sets off a warning alarm that calls you to action.
Want to know more about what you can do for coping with Coronavirus stress? Read 5 Of The Best Stress Relief Exercises For A Calm Mind & Body
2. Manage what you can; release what you cannot.
Once you acknowledge your stress, tracing the stressor can help you tackle the problem at hand. Understanding the issue can help you to problem-solve. If used as a signal, your stress can motivate you to manage what you can. Taking action to combat a part of the problem can help you to reduce your symptoms.
As the information on COVID-19 continues to develop, it is important to stay updated with information from reputable sources such as this prevention guide and this myth-busting list from The World Health Organization.
While the current knowledge we have pertaining to the Coronavirus is increasing, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the virus. Recognizing this, it is important to manage what you can with the information you are provided but also release the need to control what you cannot.
A key difference between stress and anxiety is the false sense of control that may arise from over worrying and overcompensating. While there are a lot of attempts to fill in the gaps to inform us about COVID-19, falling into false information or conspiracy theories may not be the best method for your stress management. In addition to seeking information from reputable sources, try to be mindful of the myths that may be misleading and pulling your focus from what you can control.
This is not a suggestion to abandon your methods of preparation, but to do so in an informed manner. Instead of adding to your stress by trying to control elements beyond your grasp, try to follow an expert guide to manage what you can and let go of the temptation to try to control what you cannot.