We at Branch would like to offer our community coping strategies to consider when managing stress and anxiety during this unpredictable time in the world resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Know the sources of information and updates on the virus. Be sure it is trusted and timely. Knowledge is power!
- Be aware of the situation and updates in your local community; refrain from “staying glued” to the news as this could heighten anxieties and stress.
- Have a plan for how you will go about your day. Also, be as flexible as possible in response to the changing nature of the situation.
- Take inventory of your “tried and true” methods of managing stress and anxiety. Keep those strategies at the forefront of how you cope. Use them daily.
- Be mindful of how you carry stress and anxiety. Does it reside in your neck muscles, in the tone of your thinking, or do you isolate from others, for example. Use the coping strategy that matches with how stress or anxiety impacts you.
- Use your breath to help offset stress and activate the relaxation response. Here’s a simple, effective breathing strategy to consider (“4-7-8 Method”):
- Breathe in through the nose (4 seconds)
- Hold the breath (7 seconds)
- Exhale out through the mouth (8 seconds)
- Repeat for a total of four cycles
- Leverage other coping strategies that can offset the physical manifestation of stress include progressive muscle relaxation, gentle movement like yoga and tai chi, walking, stretching, and other forms of exercise you can tolerate.
- Have awareness about the tone of your thinking patterns. Minimize catastrophic thinking and maximize realistic, rational thinking as much as possible.
- Does religion or spirituality give you strength and/or relief from stress and anxiety? Be sure to include this as part of your approach to managing stress and anxiety.
- Identify ways to stay connected and engaged socially especially if this is important for you. Don’t forget the support from the Branch Community!
Keep in mind that you may not be able to control the situation we are all facing; however, you do have say in how you respond to it and care for yourself.
Thanks to our Clinical Director, Dr. John Sorrell for helping our team and the community navigate this tumultuous time with this article.