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Advice for coping with stress during the COVID-19 shutdown

My oldest son, who lives in Detroit, recently gave me and his mother quite a scare. He called us one night to say he was suffering from some of the symptoms of COVID-19. He was sure he had it -- this didn’t feel like his usual bout with allergies -- and was quite anxious, having heard all the horror stories in the news. He was doing an online doctor’s appointment the following morning, so this made for a stressful evening and night for the three of us and his spouse.

His doctor was superb. She reviewed his symptoms, and how long he had been suffering from them, and assured him that he had probably seen the worst and should start to bounce back in a few days. She was right. By the weekend he started to sound like his old self again.

Many of us have experienced similar concerns about our own health and the health of loved ones during this current outbreak of coronavirus. On top of this, there’s the stress of being stuck at home, social distancing, and wearing masks (which are not the most comfortable thing to breath through, especially if you’re walking around). Then there’s the economic and financial anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with the pandemic. It’s no wonder so many of us are anxious right now.

I’d like to share some useful tips for dealing with the stress of this time, courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with some comments of my own:

Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. (It’s nice to stay informed, but too much news about the pandemic can be a stressful thing.)

Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate . Eat healthy. Exercise and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs. (Deep breaths were a lifesaver the night my son told us he thought he had COVID-19.)

Make time to unwind. Do some activities you enjoy. (Use this as a time to start new hobbies or renew your interest in old ones. I’ve taken up paint by number. My wife has renewed her love of woodworking. We’ve also been watching a lot of old sitcoms. Humor can be a great way to relieve stress.)

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. (I’ve checked in with family and friends via email, cell phone, social media, texts and apps such as FaceTime, Google Duo and Marco Polo, which is video texting. We live in amazing times when it comes to being able to stay connected.)

And this is piece of CDC advice strikes me as being the most important:

Take care of yourself and your community. Taking care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger. (It’s easy to feel like you are on an island during times like these, but the truth is, you are not. Getting outside yourself and focusing on others can be a great stress reliever.)

Stay well and be safe

- Mark

You can find the entire CDC article at Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19.

It contains links and more useful information about handling the stress created by the coronavirus pandemic.

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