Dealing with stress and anxiety in light of COVID-19

Mar 23, 2020, 3:01 PM
stress and anxiety COVID-19...
Photo image, Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — If you are feeling on edge because of the pandemic and recent Utah earthquake, you are not alone. Many of us are dealing with stress and anxiety in light of COVID-19.

On the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast, host Maria Shilaos speaks with marriage and family therapist Dr. Liz Hale and discusses how to manage these feelings during this time of such uncertainty.

Separate COVID-19 precautions from fear

“It’s so common to think when we have a runny nose or are starting to cough, ‘do I have the virus?'” Hale said.

“Anxiety spreads faster than the virus does.”

“Taking caution reduces anxiety. It is so important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash hands for at least 20 seconds and take a break from your phone, TV, and radio,” said Hale.

She recommends logging on or tuning in only twice a day, morning and evening, to stay informed by the sources you trust.

“Knowledge is power.  We want to stick with those reliable sources and stay informed because that reduces the anxiety and doesn’t let it take over our life,” said Hale.

How do we deal with stress and anxiety?

The stress from hearing so much about COVID-19 coronavirus is real. But there are many ways to manage it. Importantly, don’t confuse social distancing with isolation.

“One thing to take into consideration is that social distancing does not mean social isolation,” said Dr.  Hale. “Social distancing can really hurt those who don’t have other means of communication. Loneliness can be crippling.”

Hale suggests that you try to be proactive and check on others during this time. Call your neighbors, friends, and colleagues and ask how they are.

There are things we can do to keep some sense of normalcy in our lives:

  • Keep a routine
  • Stay connected to family and friends
  • Don’t stay in your pajamas all day
  • Wake up at a regular time
  • Brush your teeth
  • Get dressed
  • Plan your meals
  • Maintain normal sleep
  • Create an organized workspace if you are working from home
  • Spend time with your family

Look for the good

“I have seen families out in their yard playing, really spending time that they don’t normally have,” said podcast host Maria Shilaos.

Dr. Liz Hale says that now is a very interesting time to reevaluate what is important.

“I think we are going to miss this time of hunkering down,” said Dr. Liz Hale.

Paying attention and noticing how you feel is another important aspect during these times, according to Hale.

“Take deep breaths with long exhales, it delays that panic and promotes clearer thinking,” said Hale. “Don’t look at the past, don’t fear for the future, just live in this moment.”

Anxious thoughts can be triggered by thinking too much into the future.

“Let’s just worry about up until the end of next week. As yourself ‘what am I going to do to stay sane and safe and healthy and happy with my family close by,'” said Hale.

They key is to focus on something positive, encouraging and uplifting

  • Listen to music. It feels good.
  • Take a walk, get outside (while still keeping your distance.)
  • Keep a gratitude list.
  • Write down the best things about being quarantined at home

Overall, among all the craziness going on in the world, shift your focus to what you can control and give yourself a break.

Listen to the full episode of Let’s Get Moving for more insight on dealing with stress and anxiety in light of COVID-19.

Reach out when you need help. 

Disaster Distress Help Line



Text ‘talk with us’ to 66746

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Dealing with stress and anxiety in light of COVID-19