An immediate and unexpected change in lifestyle and habits can be the cause of an increase in stress, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has been especially hard on New Yorkers and their usual way of life. According to the CDC, pandemic outbreaks can lead to an increased sense of fear, anxiety, and an elevated emotional state. So what can New Yorkers do if they are feeling anxious, scared, or stressed out to reduce those feelings? We did some research to find reliable coping mechanisms; here’s what we found!
With technology making news instantly accessible at essentially any time, it can be easy to get sucked into constantly keeping up. The unfortunate reality of this pandemic is that the news is not always going to be good, or make you feel good. It’s important to be informed, but it’s equally important to understand your own threshold when it comes to consuming the news. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a news break.
This may seem a little too simple, but according to the Medical University of South Carolina, it can really help with feelings of anxiety and stress. Practice deep breathing, taking slow breaths in through the nose counting to four and exhaling for 4 counts. This can activate a ”self-soothing response” that helps your body calm down. It can also help you take a moment to live in the present, and not dwell on the anxieties of the future. The same MUSC article also recommended a few apps that can provide some direction for using breath control to calm your mind.
Meditation can be helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression, according to a 2014 JAMA review cited by Harvard. That makes partaking in meditation a valuable asset in this moment, especially with feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression on the rise. In New York State, Governor Cuomo has partnered with meditation service Headspace to provide free guided meditations for adults and children, as well as a series of sleep exercises to help you get to sleep. You can find those free resources here.
Even if you are living in an isolated situation, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to friends and family. Technology has given people the opportunity to communicate in a number of ways, be it through text, phone call, or video chatting. Don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones; while nothing can quite replace in-person interaction, even a virtual interaction and conversation can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you find yourself in a position that you can’t handle on your own, it’s important to seek help. Telemedicine has come a long way in recent years, and many doctor’s offices are providing other no-contact services, including e-health and online support. Additionally, there are online and application-based self-management tools that can help you cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. No matter how you are feeling, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare professional to receive consultation on the best path forward based on your own needs and circumstances.
These are difficult times for everyone, but it is important to remember that there are resources available if you are feeling overwhelmed and in need of help.