5 ways to curb coronavirus-related stress and anxiety – NBC News

As the U.S. ramps up its fight against coronavirus, its fair to say that our lives have changed dramatically in a very short amount of time. Change, especially when it involves social distancing, is hard for everyone, and its often very stressful. A certain amount of panic is normal, but how do you avoid spinning completely out of control?

Here are five ways to help manage the unique stress of the coronavirus outbreak.

While its very normal to feel anxious and stressed about the uncertainty of this pandemic, recognize that this is a universal worry, and we are all in this together. Life now has changed, temporarily, and everyone must adjust the new rules of daily living.

Accepting that social distancing is necessary to protect us is an impactful way to reduce stress. Tell yourself, even aloud, that this is not forever. Our normal way of life will return, and we need to feel empowered by what we are able to do.

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Make a list of the things that are under your control, like taking recommended health precautions (frequent hand-washing, sneezing/coughing into our elbow or tissue, respecting the six-foot distance rule, etc.) and work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A focus on healthy eating, daily activity and a good nights sleep are all double-duty positives that both support a healthy immune system and reduce stress.

Staying connected with family and friends is key to stress reduction. Isolation and loneliness are big stress promoters that have solutions. Virtual contact think FaceTime for one-on-one chats, or other group activities with a dial-in connection is the solution in this digital age. And reach out to others you might have been thinking about, to say hello and reconnect.

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While you cant change a stressor like this one because its out of your control, you can change your response to stress. Your bodys response to stress is physical (stress hormones are released), and can create a negative health response, including an elevation of blood pressure, poor concentration, interrupted sleep habits and more.

When you sense your stress creeping up (and its normal to come and go), pick a go-to activity that helps distract and relax you. It might be exercise, a walk, calling a friend, cleaning out a closet, or deep breathing. Pick one or two activities that work for you.

Maintaining a daily schedule will go a long way to reducing stress. And if you have children at home, its doubly important. Set a daily wake-up time, and specific times for work/school, meals, exercise, household chores and leisure. And establish a regular bed-time. A consistent routine will go a long way to keeping your stress at bay.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is the NBC News health editor. Follow her on twitter @drfernstrom.

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5 ways to curb coronavirus-related stress and anxiety - NBC News

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