Mental Health & COVID-19: How to Positively Cope with Stress & Anxiety

For many, the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused us to feel a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety & uncertainty because it is disrupting to our everyday lives. And while it is completely normal for people to experience these feelings, some may stop the activities they use to keep well (e.g., exercise) and engage in activities that can make things worse (e.g., drink more alcohol). While we agree that it is important to stay informed & take proper measures to limit the spread of infection, we are constantly being bombarded with more information about COVID-19, which can provoke harmful amounts of unwanted stress & anxiety that can negatively impact our mental health. Therefore, it is more important than ever to practice positive coping strategies to safeguard our mental health & wellness during these difficult times.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed lately, here are some strategies that you can try to help you effectively cope. Keep in mind that although some strategies might apply to you, others might not, or they may need to be adapted to suit you personally:

  • Ask yourself this: what do you usually do to manage your stress & anxiety? You can still rely on many of those same strategies. Try drawing on skills you have used in the past that have helped you manage previous life challenges & use those skills to help you manage your emotions during the challenging time of this outbreak 
  • Accept that it is normal and okay to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared, worried, anxious, overwhelmed or angry but don’t let those feelings consume you
  • Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control
  • Seek credible information sources & know the facts. Steer clear of misleading information 
  • Accurately assess your personal risk so that you can take reasonable precautions 
  • Find a balance – stay tuned in, but know when to take a breather. Limit worry & agitation by lessening the amount of time you spend listening to the media, especially if you perceive it to be upsetting. Bring an intentional mindset to unplugging
  • Continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthily, exercising regularly & getting proper sleep
  • Deal with problems in a structured way
  • Remind yourself to be in the present moment. Be careful with the “What ifs”, as anxiety is often focused in the future 
  • Challenge worries and anxious thoughts
  • Give your thought patterns a reality check. For example, if you get stuck in a thinking loop, think about something else, or reassure yourself.
  • Decrease other stress
  • Look after yourself – practice relaxation, meditation & self-care.  
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to seek support if needed, there are many services available to you. Talk to your doctor today!
  • Stay connected with friends & family via phone, text, email & video chat. Maintaining social connections is imperative 
  • Be kind to yourself & try your best to think positive thoughts. Remember that you are resilient
  • Be kind to others and offer them support 
  • Avoid substance use – including smoking, vaping and alcohol – it will only make things worse. It’s also a good idea to moderate your caffeine intake
  • Don’t overthink – distract yourself with hobbies: listen to music, watch a movie, read a book, clean your house, or try something new. This will help keep your mind off things 
  • Accomplish something that you planned to do previously but never got the chance to
  • Structure your days – have a plan & don’t be lazy. Sitting around at home, doing nothing won’t do you any good
  • Try going outside, staying cooped up in your house for too long is not healthy 
  • Keep a journal and challenge yourself to write everyday, it’s a great way to process your thoughts, emotions, experiences, and ideas.
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