Tips for dealing with stress and anxiety during Corona

03 April 2020

Stress and anxiety during Corona

The world has changed enormously in a few weeks. The virus COVID-19 has suddenly come very close and the measures taken make our daily life completely different. Logically, this disruption can be the cause of much stress and anxiety in society.

Mental Health Caribbean gives the following advice that can help prevent or reduce stress and anxiety.

It’s okay to feel unwell

The current situation makes everyone feel restless. This is normal. Try to keep in touch with the people around you as much as possible. Due to the social distancing measures, this cannot be done face to face. However, through modern technology (like Whatsapp and Facetime) there are many ways to keep in touch with each other without being physically present. Use them.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Try to stick to a daily routine. Especially with children at home it is important to keep to a daily structure of activities. Go to bed at set times and also get up at set times. A good night’s sleep makes you mentally fit the next day. Do not stay in bed all day. Getting enough exercise is also important to keep mentally fit. Try to keep moving indoors or outside in your garden.

Watch your diet

Because of stress, people have a tendency to eat too much or too little. This type of excessive or irregular eating can make you feel miserable. Try to maintain a healthy diet.

Self-medication does not help

Do not use alcohol and/or illicit drugs to suppress the stress. Excessive use of drugs/ alcohol can actually make the personal situation worse. Find distractions in other ways, for example by calling friends, playing (online) games or listening to music.

Limit use of social media

Social media is full of (fake) news about COVID-19. Reading all of these throughout the day can create a greater sense of restlessness, anxiety and stress. Not all reporting is reliable. Find a balance in exposure to social media and only consult reliable websites (such as from RIVM or WHO) to avoid unnecessary stress.

Give yourself a break

The measures that have been imposed also give us the freedom and space to give ourselves a break. Keep to your daily routine and allow yourself moments of rest. If you find it hard to rest, there are several relaxation techniques and ‘mindfulness’ exercises that you can look up online and listen to.

Write down your thoughts

Writing thoughts down can have a therapeutic effect. During a crisis, many thoughts can scatter through your head. It helps to put all these thoughts on paper and to check whether the thoughts are ‘helpful’ or ‘not helpful’. Examples of helpful and not helpful thoughts are:

Not helpful Helpful
We will never get out of this crisis. There is always sunshine after the rain.
I am unable to apply discipline to bring new healthy routine to my life. I am unable to find a new routine, but I ask advice and help from others on how to do this.
I can’t take the stress anymore. I am aware of my stress. I look for healthy distractions to experience less stress.

Focus on everything you do have control over, such as what you did today (like cooking, cleaning, telephone contact with family and friends). Those are often ‘helpful’ thoughts.

Find new activities

Not being able to visit groups of family members/ friends and events can create a feeling of boredom and frustration. And once you do meet with others, you aren’t allowed get too close. Instead of focusing on the boredom, you can look for fun new activities that can be done solo. For example, picking up a new hobby, doing odd jobs in your house (which you didn’t have time for before), gardening etc.

It is important to remember that it is perfectly normal to have feelings of stress and anxiety during these times of crisis. Try to follow the tips and support each other.

See our video explaining the tips in short (click the subtitles for English).