Outbreaks of any disease can be very stressful for many people. Outbreaks bring with them an overwhelming surge in fear, anxiety and panic, and both adults and children react with intense emotion.
The most recent outbreak is Coronavirus COVID-19. The first case of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The reaction to this outbreak has been strong, and governments have implemented a number of measures including quarantine, sanitization, restricting traffic and closing down public venues. As a result, many people are experiencing high levels of COVID-19 stress.
Symptoms of COVID-19 stress include:
- Fearing for your health and well-being
- Fearing for the health and well-being of your family and loved ones
- Changes in your sleeping patterns
- Changes in your eating habits
- Experiencing difficulties in concentrating and focusing
- Increase in use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs
- Pre-existing health problems become or feel worse
Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 stress and wish to seek help, please look up COVID-19 Hotlines for free mental health support, psychological consultations and live forums. For emergencies, please dial 998 for Ambulance Services.
Coping with COVID-19 stress is not only beneficial for the individual and family unit, but is also vital to keeping a stronger community. A positive mindset is crucial to solving any crisis, and it is important to keep our morale as well as those of others high during this pandemic.
Let us explore some ways of minimizing or eliminating COVID-19 stress.
Monitor Sources of Information
It is important to scrutinize where you get your information from. False alarms, social media rumors and quack medical facts contribute a great deal to COVID-19 stress. Scientists are working day and night to gain a better understanding of this coronavirus, and it is important to use credible sources such as:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention (MoHAP)
- Dubai Health Authority (DHA)
Reduce Screen Time
While it is important to keep yourself updated with the latest COVID-19 related news, it is equally crucial to take some time away. Information overload is one of the main causes of COVID-19 stress. Being aware of what’s going on is one thing. Panicking and worrying yourself sick is another. Set a limit on the time you spend watching social media, public posts, local, national or international news.
Make Social Connections
Research shows that strong social connections boost positive vibes, improve health and increase longevity of life. This especially plays a major role during calamities, wars and health crises. Taking the time to connect, reaching out and talking to your loved ones can bring your COVID-19 stress levels down significantly. You not only give others’ happiness, you also feel happy yourself. It gives you and others the opportunity to talk about personal feelings as well as enjoy conversations unrelated to the pandemic.
Taking care of your body, mind and soul goes a long way in coping successfully with COVID-19 stress. Practicing self-care includes:
- Doing fun activities is a great way to lighten up and forget COVID-19 stress. Some examples of taking your mind off things are:
- Cooking new recipes
- Playing charades
- Bringing out board games
- Learning a new language
- Family movie nights
- Arts and Crafts with the kids
- Staying active and excercising to improve your mood and heart health
- Getting enough sleep so that you feel rested and refreshed
- Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated
- Avoiding too many caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate your body
- Making good food choices and eating healthy
- Practising de-stressing techniques like deep-breathing, mindfulness, meditation, chanting and yoga
- Listening to calming music such as instrumental, ghazals and spiritual chants