The stress from a global pandemic can bring out harmful behaviors. Learn how to turn these bad actions into good ones.
The global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been a time of uncertainty for many people. In times of distress, each individual reacts diﬀerently. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention states the stress of COVID-19 may cause the following:
- Fear about your health and the health of others
- Increased consumption of alcohol
- Increased use of tobacco or other drugs
- Sleeping diﬃculty
- Unhealthy changes in eating patterns
- Worsening of mental health issues
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, recognizing and acting on coping behaviors can help counter their eﬀects and regain control of your mental health. Support yourself by trying the following:
- Ask for help. There’s no shame in seeking support. Whether it’s help from a mental health professional or a friend, don’t hesitate to reach out. Check your smartphone’s app store to ﬁnd helpful resources such as the COVID Coach app created by the National Center for PTSD.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Abusing alcohol and drugs can make it harder to handle stress. If you enjoy the occasional cocktail, keep it moderate. That’s one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.
- Challenge negativity. Reframe negative thought patterns into positive ones. For example, “I can’t do what I’m used to doing,” can become “I have time to take up a new hobby.”
- Exercise regularly. All forms of exercise can reduce stress, but mind-body exercises, such as yoga and breathing exercise, in particular can reduce the eﬀects of stress reactions. Whichever exercise you choose, ensure it helps you maintain at least 6 feet of distance from anyone not in your household.
- Get enough sleep. Keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. The amount of sleep you need depends on your age, but most adults should get at least seven hours a night. It’s also a good idea to turn oﬀ electronic devices an hour or two before bed, according to the Sleep Foundation.
- Give yourself a break. The constant ﬂow of news can be overwhelming, so it’s important to disconnect and turn your attention to things that help you unwind. Listen to some favorite tunes or go for a walk. Try having a movie night with friends using virtual apps like Netﬂix Party.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Aim for a well-rounded diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This can also be a great opportunity to learn how to cook new, healthy dishes.
Paul B. Hall Medical Group offers behavioral health services close to home. Greg Horn, APRN is accepting new patients of all ages. He offers in-office as well as Telehealth visits from the comfort of your own home. To schedule an appointment, call 606-789-3188.
Sources nami.org, cdc.gov, psychiatry.ucsf.edu, ptsd.va.gov, stress.org, cdc.gov, cdc.gov, cdc.gov, nami.org, heart.org, adaa.org, samhsa.gov, aad.org, ua.edu, cdc.gov