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How to Manage COVID-19-Related Stress

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, including seniors and aging adults who receive support from a home care provider. Due to precautions and restrictions, many elements of everyday life have been disrupted, causing stress and anxiety. While increased vaccination efforts present a hope of life returning to normal, the need to cope with the stress of the pandemic continues into the immediate future. To help manage the stress of these circumstances, here are four tips to help overcome these feelings and remain positive:

Focus on positivity

One way to overcome the stress associated with COVID-19 isolation and abnormalities is by striving to focus solely on the positive elements of present-day life. Often, positive thinking begins with what is referred to as “self-talk.” This is the chatter that runs through a person’s head throughout all hours of the day. Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts begins here.

When a negative thought comes to mind, each person has the ability to stop and assess this thinking. Then, they can choose to find positivity in each situation. For example, instead of thinking about how isolating COVID-19 circumstances can feel, someone can choose to focus on the fact that they are not currently infected with the virus. Something that can help to identify positive aspects of everyday life is to create a list of things that the person is grateful for.

These strategies can greatly assist in stress management because, according to Mayo Clinic, “When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.”

Find a new hobby

Another way to mitigate COVID-19-related stress is by establishing a new hobby. This helps reallocate time — that would otherwise be spent stressing — on new sources of creativity and entertainment. Whether someone chooses to take on crafting or simply decides to dedicate time to reorganizing or cleaning their home, these actions establish a sense of fulfillment and reward. All of these activities divert one’s attention away from anxious thoughts, while potentially developing new sources of passion.

Take a deep breath or meditate

Relaxation is an important element of mindfulness. Although everyone has different relaxation preferences, learning how to become less tense or anxious can make a vast impact on overall wellness. When stress from the coronavirus begins to feel overwhelming, taking a deep breath or engaging in mediation can help someone to rid themselves of these feelings. Other ways to destress are to take a warm bath, spend time with pets, watch something comforting on TV or call a loved one.

In terms of breathing and meditation, by bringing an individual’s attention to these exercises, they can simultaneously take their mind off the anxiety. There are a number of applications today that can help accomplish this, including the Calm and Headspace apps. Calm is a software company that produces meditation products, including guided meditations and Sleep Stories. Headspace also offers guided meditation through audio sessions where one of the company’s co-creators leads listeners on a journey of contemplation.

Develop a walking routine

A fourth strategy to overcome COVID-19 stress is to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.

Further, the ADAA shares that scientists have found that “regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.” So a simple 20- to 30-minute walk can greatly improve one’s feelings of stress and anxiety.

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