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Nine Ways to Reduce COVID-19-Related Anxiety

March 24, 2020

Staying calm during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

“Having some fear and anxiety over coronavirus is perfectly normal. But if anxiety begins to impede your ability to care for yourself or others, it’s a problem.”

Peter Bolo, MD, chairman and medical director of the department of psychiatry for Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center

Reduce your stress with these nine tips:

  1. Meet your basic needs. Create a new daily schedule. Prioritize healthy eating. Hydrate regularly. And aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. “A new routine will help ease the chaos,” Dr. Bolo says.
  2. Prioritize your health. Manage any current medical conditions. It will help you feel better and will offer greater protection if you get sick. Avoid alcohol or drugs, which can heighten anxiety. 
  3. Stay intentionally calm. An occasional outburst is OK. But staying composed most of the time will benefit you and others. Free apps like Calm and Headspace® have brief meditation exercises to help you self-soothe.
  4. Get outdoors. Walk, hike, bike or jog.
  5. Be kind to yourself. “You’re probably already doing a good job under this very stressful situation, so give yourself a pat on the back,” Dr. Bolo says. 
  6. Connect with others. Use online messaging and video apps to talk with family members and friends. Host virtual game nights or family dinners.
  7. Use uplifting words. Remind loved ones you appreciate them. “Reassuring language soothes unsettled feelings,” Dr. Bolo says.
  8. Limit media exposure. Stay informed with reputable media sources but take screen breaks so every “breaking news” banner doesn’t create stress.
  9. Get creative. “Any major crisis is an opportunity for creativity,” Dr. Bolo says. Turn handwashing into a 20-second “spa” for your hands. Create a pandemic playlist on Spotify®.

Get updated pandemic information>