5 Tips on Managing Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19 (Video)
Written by Molly Sherb, PhD, Psychologist
View Molly’s Webinar with extended Q&A.
COVID-19 and the current state of the world has produced an incredible amount of distress that at times is overwhelming and incapacitating. The unknown of what tomorrow will look like can often fuel anxiety and stress.
We asked our psychologist, Molly Sherb, PhD for tips on how to manage stress and anxiety during this difficult time.
1. Stay in the Present Moment
Keep in mind that anxiety LOVES the unknown and will always replace the unknown elements of a scenario with catastrophic predictions. When your mind takes you to the doomsday version of the future, bring yourself back to the current moment and ground yourself in what you know to be true. Identify (and even verbalize out loud) the aspects of your life in the current moment that are stable and okay. This can include your health, the safety of your loved ones, the food in your fridge, the roof over your head or anything else you have to be grateful for. Grounding yourself in your current reality will help you maintain a balanced perspective.
2. Identify What is in Your Control
Within the context of a situation that is largely out of your control, it’s important to identify what is in your control, and before you say there is nothing, there is always something. This could include a shift in your perspective, working to manage your emotions, or taking a few moments for yourself (even if it’s just minutes). It’s important to conserve energy in a time that can feel incredibly exhausting. Conducting an analysis of “in my control” items versus “out of my control” will help you to determine where your energy is best spent.
3. Infuse Self-Compassion into Your Day
We can all be really hard on ourselves from time to time, but now is the time to start cutting yourself some slack. Allow yourself to experience whatever emotions are coming up for you and try not to judge them. Judging yourself requires additional energy that is best spent elsewhere. Acknowledge the fact that your reactions are human, and many people are experiencing an increase in stress and anxiety at this time. You are not alone. These are unusual times; allow yourself to have unusual reactions.
4. Stay connected
Social distancing and quarantining in your home can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation. During these times, it’s important to stay connected to your social support system. Continue to text, call, and video chat with your friends and family, and use social media as a platform to connect and relate to others. Use this time to have meaningful conversations with your loved ones. You don’t need to “be strong” for everyone around you. Identify those individuals in your support system you can vent to so that you can remain a stable presence for others who rely on you. Physical isolation does not have to mean emotional isolation.
5. Take Small Steps to Establish a Routine
As many of us shift to working from home, it is important to take small steps toward establishing a routine. This won’t happen overnight and it’s important to be patient with yourself. Pick one thing each day you want to try and do in a structured way prior to imposing an entire structured routine on yourself. If you are having difficulty establishing a routine, start with something easy. For example, if you want to be on your work computer by 9 am, choose that as your one point of structure, allowing other aspects of your day to take shape naturally. Once you have successfully accomplished that in your routine, move on to something else. Gradually, you will ultimately create a structured work day at home.
Stress, unfortunately, is a normal part of life. Certain activities trigger physical, mental and emotional responses. For more information, see a previous article written by Molly Sherb, PhD on tips for how to identify signs of stress and breathing exercises to help your mind and body return to calm after experiencing stress signs.
If a member at The Health Center at Hudson Yards and interested in speaking with one of our psychologists, contact a Personal Health Navigator by chat in the member portal or by calling 646.819.5100.
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