It’s a frightening time right now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shutting down. The outbreak of the coronavirus may be more stressful for some of us and cause extreme anxiety and/or depression. And, we still don’t really know what is to come in the future. What is going to happen next? How bad will it get and for how long with this affect our world? It all makes it too easy to catastrophize and spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic, especially if you are already living with an anxiety disorder. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations but for those of you who already suffer from mental health issues, those of you who are health care providers, older people with chronic disease who are at higher risk for the COVID-19, and younger adults and children may react differently than people who are not in one of these groups. The bad news is that stress compromises the immune system and makes us more vulnerable to the coronavirus that we are all trying to avoid. So, it is important to keep your stress and anxiety under control. Easier said than done right? But there are a few things that you can do to help keep that stress under control. Let’s take a look:
- Sleep: Sleeping at least 7-8 hours per night is vital to keep your immune system strong and helps to process your stress. If you’re not sleeping well try some of these tips
- Natural Factors ‘Tranquil Seep’ is a great product to take 30 minutes before bedtime. It is also great to keep at your bedside and if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, chew on a couple of these and STAY IN BED.
- Natural Factors ‘GABA’ chewables is a great product to take anytime of the day to help wind you down. You can take it an hour before bed to help you sleep as well
- Sleeping Formulas: There are many different formulas to help you to sleep that will have a combination of herbs/vitamins that all work to help you fall asleep and stay asleep
- Sleepy Teas: There are many different sleep teas available with a combination of herbs to help you wind down and sleep
- Reduce Stress:
- B-vitamins, and lots of them! The B vitamins help to stabilize the central nervous system, reduce stress, increase energy and takes some of the pressure off the adrenals. It may be a good idea to take your B vitamins in the day time as it provides you with energy and may keep you awake.
- Omega 3’s: There are numerous studies that have shown a link between anxiety, depression, mood and low blood levels of Omega 3 fats. Keep in mind our brain cell membranes are made partly of Omega 3 fats (particularly DHA). If Omega 3’s decrease in the body and the brain, it makes it harder for serotonin – which is a chemical that transmits messages from one neuron to the other – to pass through cell membranes.
- Take up a relaxation practice: When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring you back into a state of equilibrium. Regular practice gives you the greatest benefits, so see if you can set aside even a little time every day.
- Turn off the news if it is stressing you out and don’t watch the news right before bed. Also, limit how often you check for updates. You need just enough to stay informed without being obsessed with watching it all day.
- While in-person visits are limited, make it a priority to stay in touch with your friends and family. If you tend to withdraw when depressed or anxious, think about scheduling regular phone calls, Skype or Facetime.
- Social media can be a powerful tool, not only for connecting with friends and family, but for feeling connected in a greater sense to our communities to remind us that we are not alone. But, be mindful about how social media is making you feel. Don’t hesitate to mute people who are making your anxiety worse.
- Don’t let the coronavirus dominate every conversation. It is important to take breaks from stressful thoughts about the pandemic to simply enjoy each other’s company, to laugh, share stories, and focus on other things going on in our lives.
- Most of us have that one person that always makes you feel good. Talk to them more often, even on a daily basis to check in on your mood.
- Read a book! Reading takes your mind off of everything and puts you into a different world. I read every night before bed to take my mind off of the day and to help me fall asleep.
- Sit on your front or back porch, backyard, or go for a walk. The outdoors is a great way to lift your mood.
- Exercise will not only keep your body healthy, it is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood, as well as provide you with much needed energy.
Stay safe everyone!