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COVID-“19 Ways to Control Anxiety and Stress”

Stress comes in many forms. People are experiencing different levels of stress and anxiety. Many are having success with established coping mechanisms already in place. Some have set great routines for activities of daily living and others have not. Behavior patterns and habits can be hard to change. It is safe to say, families and consumers around the globe are being challenged.

Some people are sheltering in place and others are essential workers still working their normal non-stop schedules but with increased demands. Others are stressed with new at-home work environments and the need to stay visible and productive. Those that are self-directed need no guidance when working from home. Others may need accountability tools to help stay on track.

Many parents are challenged with the homeschool curriculum and unruly children. Others are embracing this with no problem.

Business owners and those that have lost their jobs are feeling financial stress.

People in need of medical care and or surgical procedures that they cannot get scheduled are sick, suffering, frustrated and stressed. Pregnant women who must undergo childbirth without significant others present are alone and disappointed. Those that are critical enough to undergo surgery without family members are also alone and scared. Those that have lost loved ones due to COVID-19 and from other unrelated causes need our understanding, compassion, and heartfelt condolences. Unthinkable life decisions must be contemplated and ultimately made. Addictions and abusive behaviors may or may not be heightened.

We are all different. We react differently to stress.

Here are 19 ways to help control anxiety and stress.

1. Good Nutrition-Eat healthy and focus on new recipes that nourish your body with plenty of nutrient dense foods. If cooking helps control your stress, prepare an old favorite family recipe or a recipe from a clipping you’ve been meaning to try.
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

2. Physical Activity-Get some daily exercise. Take a relaxing bike ride or do an exercise or yoga video. Control your weight while self-isolating by moving more to burn calories and monitoring portion size.
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/physical-activity

3. Read-Read that book you have been meaning to read or learn something new through reading. http://www.read.gov/books/

4. Connect-Reach out and talk to someone or foster a relationship. Those that are alone are most in need of human connections. http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/families_and_consumers/relationships/communication.shtml

5. Learn a new skill-How about knitting, crocheting, cooking, container gardening, video production, painting, or a multitude of other possibilities.
https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/container-gardening/

6. Clean, Organize and declutter-Do a “10 minute” clean up. Start in the kitchen and learn about clean sponges. See the link below. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a huge project. That may add more stress.
http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/families_and_consumers/clean_kitchen_sponges.shtml

7. Meditate-Engage in mindfulness and deep breathing exercises.
https://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/bf0a42f96e874778bf47a8517125f1591d

8. Gather donations– Help others in need. Get a donation box started yourself and/or involve the entire family. Before donating to an organization do your research. https://www.usa.gov/donate-to-charity

9. Get silly and play some games-Do a puzzle, tell funny jokes and play board games that can add to family memories, well-being and quality of life. Laughter can help reduce stress.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978245/

10. Enjoy some music-Listen to music that you enjoy. Develop a playlist of your favorite songs and sing along to them. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734071/

11. Pet therapy-Take care of your pets. Play with your cat and/or walk your dog. Pet therapy is a fantastic way to destress. Our furry friends must be wondering why we are spending so much time at home.
http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/families_and_consumers/relationships/pets.shtml

12. Have meaningful conversations-Talk to children, parents and friends. Support one another. Have those meaningful conversations. This is the perfect time to have in depth conversations and let people in your life know how much they are loved. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Talking-With-Children-Tips-for-Caregivers-Parents-and-Teachers-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/PEP20-01-01-006?referer=from_search_result

13. Absorb some Vitamin D-Go outside and catch some sunshine.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY20700.pdf

14. Practice gardening skills-Plant a garden or just get outside and water the lawn. Enjoy nature.  https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/gardening-basics/

15. Clean a closet or drawer or organize important paperwork– Do 15 minutes at a time. Do not overwhelm yourself. Being organized with important paperwork can be comforting knowing documents are stored safely and can be easily located.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY37400.pdf

16. Take a day off and destress-Self-care is important. Know when you need to take a break and some time off. It is easy to become overwhelmed in times of uncertainty.
https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/duval/family-and-consumer-sciences/family-life-education/

17. Read motivational quotes and practice positive self-talk– Stay positive in these unprecedented times. When you start to feel tense, try to use reframing to look at a situation differently. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY51700.pdf

18. Watch a funny movie– There are psychological benefits to laughter.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125057/

19. Treat yourself-Practice self-care and mindfulness. Give yourself an at home facial or a manicure. Spend some time alone to gather your thoughts. Bake a carrot cake or make some tasty banana bread. Watch a TV show or series of interest. Read a magazine. Take a nap to rest your mind. Do something for yourself today! https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY138100.pdf

Stay well. Realize that some things are in your control and somethings are not.

Other resources
1. UF/IFAS Broward Website, Family and Consumer Sciences- http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/broward/family-and-consumer-sciences/

2. UF/IFAS Broward Extension Blogs- http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/

3. UF/IFAS Extension, Solutions for Your Life, Family Resources- http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/family-resources/

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks-https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Coping-with-Stress-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/sma14-4885

5. Stress and Coping-https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

6. 5 Things you should know about stress-https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

6 Comments on “COVID-“19 Ways to Control Anxiety and Stress”

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive recipe to embrace stress. This time, more than ever, we all need to check on our habits and give smart use of our time in pursue of a balanced, happy life. The new normal is be ready to adopt new routines, open mentality to deal with abrupt changes in our lives, and aware of our surroundings to provide help to others in need.

    @Dr. Brenda Marty Jimenez, I really like this blog style. It is an all included resource: fun and short to read, extensive to address many angles, and interactive to explore a deep research on the topic.

  2. Nice job, Brenda! These are even good to remember post Covid-19!

  3. Hi Brenda, nice list here. Simple and sweet. As a licensed therapist, I have also been suggesting many of these items to my clients. I have especially been suggestive of going for a walk outside if possible. It gets some exercise, sunshine and good thinking time which is similar to meditation. It all depends on the client because some clients really struggle with “being in their own thoughts” so I recommend talking on the phone with someone they care about. I like your list because it’s not an exact science for every person because every needs something different. Thanks again for the reminders on a few others though!

    • HI Erik-Thank you for your thoughtful comments and feedback.
      Have a nice day.

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