Coping with anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic
By Roger Whittler, LPC
Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program clinician
It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief and worry before, during and after a disaster such as a pandemic. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react wisely to urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will set the stage for your long-term healing. A few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are:
Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Connect with others (while maintaining social distancing). Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships and build a strong support system.
Take breaks. Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy while being respectful of social distancing suggestions.
Stay informed. When you feel you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable channels of information, like your local government authorities.
But avoid too much exposure to news. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible, then check for updates between breaks.
Follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for hand washing, social distance and isolation.
Seek help when needed. If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor or doctor.
In a crisis, there are many benefits to managing your stress and anxiety. The most important is our long-term health and recovery.
The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here to help, 24/7. Call MOLAP at 1-800-688-7859.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Retrieved March 17, 2020: