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Combating Anxiety: 5 Tips to Help You Regain Your Calm

Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. And, as the coronavirus spreads, our unanswered questions can make us feel vulnerable or fearful.  And here’s a catch-22: The more you stress, the more vulnerable you can become to viruses, because stress can dampen your immune response. But there are steps you can take to push back against the communal anxiety.

1. Plan ahead to feel more in control

Those of us prone to anxiety, like to be in control. So, if you take basic steps to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak in your community, you may feel a sense of relief. Have contingency plans for these disruptions. In addition, identify trusted sources of information you can turn to in the event of an outbreak.

2. Unplug. Learn to be in the moment

It’s important to be in the know. But you don’t need to obsess over the news. “There’s a point where, information gathering could become problematic,” says Stewart Shankman, a psychologist at Northwestern University who studies anxiety. He says it could have the unintended effect of driving up your fear.

If you’re taking basic steps to protect yourself and stay informed, that’s enough. “There’s no way to reduce your risk to zero,” Shankman says.

3. Prioritize good sleep

While there’s still a lot to learn about the new coronavirus, prior research has shown that well-rested people are better at fending off viruses. If you’re having trouble sleeping, techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can be helpful.

4. Exercise and eat well

This is always good advice, and it’s worth emphasizing during times of uncertainty. There’s lots of evidence that daily exercise can help promote feelings of well-being — and boost your immunity.

What you eat can also help improve your outlook. A recent study found that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein helped reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety among a group of young adults.

5. Wash your hands. Embrace the elbow bump.

When an infectious disease hits a community, there’s only so much anyone can do. You can’t sterilize your entire environment. But taking a few preventative actions will help reduce your risk and hopefully relieve your anxiety.

When an infected person sneezes or coughs, droplets containing virus particles are released. If you are standing close, you can become infected. Federal guidelines suggest six feet of separation, so keep your distance.

In addition, droplets can land on surfaces, such as elevator buttons, doorknobs, and shared work spaces. So, if you touch a contaminated surface, then touch your face, you can become infected. The virus can enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth.

During an outbreak, proper hand-washing is your best defense against a virus. In addition, you may want to forego hugging and hand-shakes, and embrace “low-touch” salutations such as the elbow bump.

Excerpted from “Pandemic Panic? These 5 Tips Can Help You Regain Your Calm.” Read the full article on NPR, or listen to the podcast:

Source: NPR | Pandemic Panic? These 5 Tips Can Help You Regain Your Calm, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/03/811656226/pandemic-panic-these-5-tips-can-help-you-regain-your-calm | © 2020 npr

A screening can help you determine if you or someone you care about should contact a mental health professional. Clinical Services Coordinators can arrange a free 30 minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert. Call or email our Clinical Services Coordinators at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Consultation appointment.

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