Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
The coronavirus pandemic has put increased stress on many people and their families, leading to fear and anxiety about the new disease and what could happen as a result. If you are feeling increased stress and anxiety, you are not alone.
A recent poll found 53% of adults in the U.S. reported their mental health has been negatively impacted as a result of worry and stress caused by the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health directives like social distancing can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, increasing stress and anxiety. While COVID-19-related health guidelines, such as social distancing, are keeping families safe and decreasing the spread of the virus, people’s mental health is taking a hit.
Due to the pandemic, you may have experienced the following symptoms associated with mental health:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
- Worry regarding your financial situation or job.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other substances.
Even if you have not experienced these symptoms as a result of the pandemic, it’s important to check in with yourself and others regarding stress levels, anxiety and depression. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, here are ways you can help manage your stress and anxiety.
- If there is a crisis, get immediate help. Call 911 or one of the following hotlines:
- Disaster Distress Helpline. Dial 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- Text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers in Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- English — Dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Spanish — Dial 1-888-628-9454.
- Speak with a professional. Find a health care provider you can talk to regarding your situation, such as a mental health nurse practitioner (NP). They can help you figure out ways to manage your mental health and find treatment if necessary.
- Put away technology. Take a break from watching, reading or listening to news coverage of the pandemic, including posts on social media. A digital detox can help ease stress.
- Take care of your body. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the stress, isolation and anxiety will continue as well. However, there are still many ways you can help ease their impact on your mental health. Take an honest look at how you are feeling. If the stress and anxiety become too overwhelming, reach out for help and contact your health care provider or local NP.