Since the COVID-19 crisis arose, life has become more stressful for almost everyone. It’s normal to feel worried. But for people with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease — who face a greater risk from the virus — anxiety might be overwhelming.
Now’s a good time to take a breath, examine some of your habits and see if you can make positive changes.
For example, are you staying up too late or overindulging in your favorite comfort foods? Is it harder to concentrate or make decisions? If so, you’re not alone. Here are some more questions to help you gauge your level of anxiety:
- Are you overwhelmed with fear about your own health or that of your loved ones?
- Do you feel more anger, hostility or irritability than usual?
- Are you deeply upset about how life has changed since the coronavirus appeared?
- Have you been neglecting routine hygiene and self-care?
- Are you having headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues or other physical symptoms?
- Have chronic health problems or mental health conditions worsened?
- Are you using alcohol, tobacco or other substances more frequently?
If stress interferes with your daily activities for several days in a row, call your health care provider.
Anxiety can make the best-laid plans fall apart. But it’s vital for people with conditions like heart disease and diabetes to stick to their treatment plans and to consult their health care providers if they are struggling.
Meanwhile, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your anxiety about COVID-19. Focus on self-care, including eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol and other substances.
Make a point of limiting how much pandemic-related news and social media content you take in every day. Know when enough is enough! You’re in control. Stop scrolling and pick up a book instead. Here are some more tips:
- Try meditating, stretching, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness or other stress-reduction techniques.
- Indulge in a calming ritual like a hot bath, a nature walk, journaling or quiet time with pets.
- Set aside time for hobbies, music, movies or other enjoyable pastimes.
- Agree on a daily schedule for everyone in your household to help reduce day-to-day friction.
- Find people and things that make you laugh.
- Establish your own special space where you can quietly relax.
- Tackle projects on your long-term to-do list, such as cleaning a closet or reorganizing your office.
- Connect with your usual support network as well as other loved ones, share how you feel and support them as they cope with the pandemic.
- Find an online support group.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or sadness, contact your primary care provider, your health insurer or your employer’s Employee Assistance Program, if available, to find a mental health provider. (Remember, many appointments are being conducted by phone or video during the pandemic, so you can avoid in-person contact.)
In an emergency, call:
- The federal government’s 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 (or text TalkWithUs to 66746).
- The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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