Is COVID-19 Stressing You Out? Three Steps to Take Back Some Control
In February and March, when news of the coronavirus pandemic first broke, many of us starting feeling anxious and worried. Then, when the markets turned into a wild rollercoaster ride, the reaction of many was to feel even more stress and perplexity. After all, not only did the financial markets seem to be spinning out of control, but our personal health and that of our loved ones was on the line, too. For most of us, the feeling of having no control generates stress, and when two of the most important aspects of our lives—our finances and our health—are being threatened, anxiety and stress are actually very normal reactions.
For much of May and part of June, it seemed that the tide might be turning in a more positive direction. But in recent days, as the news carries almost daily reports of record-breaking infection levels and rising hospitalization rates, the stress is back for many Americans.
In other words, if you feel as if your stress and anxiety levels are reaching a breaking point, you’re not alone. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 45 percent of adults in the United States are feeling worry and stress related to the coronavirus. Steps taken to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and loss of lifesocial distancing, non-essential business closures, remote work, closed daycares, shelter-in-place orders, online school, and other measures—have caused many people to feel overwhelmed, isolated, or both. Anxiety has been triggered by continued uncertainty about the future and worries about the health of loved ones.
Fortunately, there are some specific actions we can take to help us stay calm and carry on. For instance, you can:
Take a news detox. Being bombarded with news and information can be distressing and take a toll on your well-being. As a result, it may benefit you to take a break from watching, listening, and/or reading pandemic updates, especially if you find that you are doing that several times a day. Reducing social media consumption may help, too.
Use the extra time for activities that are more constructive and less upsetting. You could listen to music, practice yoga, meditate, listen to a funny audio book, go for a walk, or do something else you enjoy.
The CDC also helps a helpful resource page titled “Coping with Stress” that you may want to review.
Make it about you. For some people, stress and anxiety negatively affect immune response. Take some steps to boost your immune system. Harvard Health Publishing recommends:
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
Maintain a healthy weight
Drink alcohol only in moderation
Get enough sleep
Connect and reconnect. Sheltering in place may keep you safe from the virus, but isolation can have negative mental health repercussions. On the Psych Central blog, Susan Zinn recommends interacting with neighbors from a safe distance, sharing a wave and a smile on daily walks, and participating in digital family get-togethers, all of which may lift your spirits.
No one knows how long the pandemic will last or what life will be like in the years ahead. But one thing is certain about coping with uncertainty: it’s easier when you take control of things you can control or influence. Bernhardt Wealth Management helps our clients control the things they can control to enhance to probability of a better long-term investment outcome. If we can provide a little more certainty for you during these uncertain times, please contact us. If you’d like to read our recent article, “Tips for Keeping Healthy as the Economy Re-Opens,” please click here.