If you are reading this you probably already thinking to yourself “How will you manage the stress during the pandemic?”.

You have probably already read articles by ‘experts’ with titles such as Coping with stress, Stress management strategies or Manage stress and anxiety.  Mostly, they offer ‘lists’, 5, 10, 20, things you can do to ‘Manage Stress’ or ‘Come to terms with Isolation’.

We are not going to give you another list of ways to manage the stress during the pandemic!  Just some ideas, any one of which may help you to come to terms with the additional problems of living, however briefly, with the new set of challenges self-isolation presents us.

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Do you feel stressed?  It is perfectly understandable!  Almost anything that interferes with our normal routines creates stress.  Anything that threatens your loved ones is a threat.  It is natural to worry and you are not alone.  In late March, 77% of American women and 61% of American men were reporting ‘personal stress’, (The Washington Post-ABC News poll).

You are not alone; the same poll tells us that over two-thirds of Americans are worried that they or their family members might become infected by COVID-19.  To worry about a possible threat is natural and positive.

Symptoms and Prevention from Coronavirus

JUST FOR A MOMENT think about something else that stresses you.  How do you manage that? The most frequently cited stressful events are ‘holidays’ and ‘Christmas’ and the way to deal with both is to PLAN.  The same is true for the changes in routine (habit) brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  You need a new PLAN! A plan which takes account of your changed circumstances. No, this is not a list, it is just a few suggestions of the things that have changed since, say, March 15th.

Having a plan (and sticking to it) will help you take control. Loss of control is one of the main causes of stress.  Part of your plan should include identifying the causes of any stress – not just a vague “I’m stressed by thoughts of COVID-19”.  Itemize the individual causes. Make your list as long it needs to be. Now cross off things you can’t do anything about!  To be honest, it won’t stop you worrying about them but you will be better off concentrating on the things YOU CAN AFFECT!

5 ways to manage stress during the pandemic

  • BE ACTIVE: exercise won’t make stress disappear but inactivity can make it worse.  If you have time on your hands, keep on your feet!  Even watching TV finds a reason to move about at least once every 15 minutes.
  • CONNECT WITH PEOPLE: if you are self-isolating with your spouse and or kids, that is not the problem!  If you are alone, try to continue your normal day’s contacts with friends, family or colleagues by mobile or on-line.  AND whoever you are talking to, the kids or neighbors, see how long you can go without beginning a sentence with the word ‘I’.  HINT, try to begin your conversations with a question!
  • GET THINGS DONE: all those things you have been threatening to do ‘when I have time’, set a goal (that includes a start and finish by date) AND DO THEM.  Meeting your goals, even small ones will give you satisfaction, a sense of achievement and something to boast about!
  • HELP OTHER PEOPLE: of course, it is a truism to say that there is always someone worse off than yourself.  The more you can stay home the less likely you are to be infected by the pandemic – if you do have to go out, ask yourself, can I save someone else from making a journey? Even if you take it in turns, you can halve the likelihood of spreading the virus.
  • OLD WIVES’ TALES: Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.  Well, it’s not going to do it on its own but research confirms the rhyme.  We are not going to add to the ‘list’ of suggestions for achieving this happy state but in common with most authorities, we suggest not drinking coffee (caffeine) less than 4 hours before your planned bedtime and that drinking alcohol may help to put you to sleep but it will NOT help you to sleep WELL!

Laughter is the best medicine. Researches show that laughter has physical benefits, attitudinal (psychological) benefits and social (interpersonal) benefits.

Physical health benefits

Laughing stimulates hormone activity which

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes muscles

Attitudinal benefits

Laughter is a response to the intellectual stimulus which

  • Relieves stress
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Strengthens resilience
  • Improves mood
  • Adds joy and zest to life

Interpersonal benefits

Laugh and the world laugh with you. Laughter

  1. Strengthens relationships
  2. Can defuse conflicts
  3. Promotes personal bonding
  4. Enhances teamwork

If you take nothing else away from this article, please take this: you should not worry about worrying. To worry is to be concerned about the future-that is normal!

Share your worries- you can even share them with us.

Read about: 5 ways MultiCare is focussing on health equity