Five Ways to Handle COVID-19 Anxiety

Healthcare organizations in the United States have been preparing for COVID-19 for weeks, but many Americans are just now becoming more aware and concerned about the pandemic’s impact on daily life.

For some it was a nation-wide quarantine in Italy; for others, it was the cancellation of the NBA season or that actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson contracted the illness. Now it is colleges and universities sending students home and an onslaught of event cancellations on the local, state and national level.

“Feeling fear and anxiety are normal,” said Amber Olson, LCSW, director of Behavioral Therapy Services at Memorial Behavioral Health. “Stress at any time can affect your well-being, and it’s important for you to take care of your mental health.”

Here are five ways to manage anxiety during this time:

  • Take a break from social media and the news. If the constant cycle of news and information causes you stress, step away from it. Delete apps or turn off your phone to give your mind a time to recharge and refresh.
  • Pay attention to reliable sources. Read information about COVID-19 from reliable sources including World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, your local health department or the Memorial Health System COVID-19 information page.
  • Focus on what is in your control. You can’t solve every problem in the world, but you can control what’s happening in your life. Focus on what’s in your power to help you feel control in a difficult situation. Take care of your family and take steps to prevent the spread of the virus including handwashing and social distancing.
  • Practice self-care. Get enough sleep, engage in activities that make you feel mentally and physically healthy and eat a nutritious diet.
  • Ask for help. If you’re struggling and your mental health is impacted by stress, seek help from others. A licensed mental health professional can help you to learn and develop coping mechanisms to cope with stress.

“If you need help, seek it out. You don’t have to manage on your own,” said Olson.

Need to talk? 

As behavioral health services across the state close temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Memorial Behavioral Health is providing telehealth and phone appointments with their patients. In addition, MBH has established an emotional support hotline, available at 217-588-5509, to provide support to individuals who are experiencing anxiety or stress, even if they are not MBH patients.

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