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Stress, Anxiety And Depression During COVID-19

How are you feeling these days? Anxious? Stressed out? Over this whole pandemic, we’ve been dealing with for the past year? We get it, and you’re not alone. From worrying about contracting the virus, uncertain job security, concerns about loved ones, and extreme loneliness, it’s no wonder that more Americans have reported feeling more stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic. 

In a recent survey done by NAFC around incontinence management during the coronavirus, we heard these feelings of stress and anxiety echoed again and again:

“I am peeing my pants more. I get upset and pee more.”

“More leakage, harder to hold, high frustration levels.”

“It’s worse during COVID because of the anxiety and depression it brings of always being by a toilet all the time.”

“Increased anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.”

“Time is a challenge”

Even though times are tough, it’s important to manage these feelings. Over time, stress, anxiety, and depression can have a big effect on our mental and physical health. Doing what we can to minimize these feelings will help make this time more bearable, and keep you healthy.

Below are several strategies you can use right now to get your coronavirus anxiety under control, and better manage your overall mental health.

Shift Your Mindset

Focus on what you can control, and let go of the things you can’t. You’ve probably heard this saying a thousand times, but there’s a good reason for it. Many things are simply out of our control right now and it’s important to recognize what we do and don’t have control over.  Find a healthy balance here and take charge of the things in your immediate circle.  You’ll likely find that simply letting go of the things you have no power over will lift a huge weight off your shoulders.

Take Good Care Of Yourself

  • Eat Well.  

    It goes without saying that if you’re putting junk into your body, you’re not going to feel your best.  Take the time now to look at your diet and work in some healthy strategies.  Many people have used the time at home to learn to cook or explore new recipes. But, even if you hate the kitchen, you don’t have to be an amazing cook to whip up some simple healthy recipes. Check out this roundup of simple, healthy meals you can throw together in no time. 

  • Get Enough Exercise.

    Since we’ve all been stuck at home, you’re probably moving less now than before the pandemic. But it’s important to get in some physical exercise, which can help boost feel-good endorphins and fight off anxiety and depression.  Work in some time to move your body – even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes here and there – each day. You don’t need a fancy home gym either.  There are loads of workouts online that can help get you moving. And, if you’re able to get outside, a simple walk each day will do wonders for your mood.  (Need some ideas of how to get started with a workout routine? Check out this post.)

  • Get Good Sleep.

    It may feel tempting to burn the midnight oil each night since most of us don’t have anywhere to go the next day, but pay attention to the amount of shut-eye you’re getting.  Lack of sleep can affect your emotional health and may make your feelings of stress and anxiety worse. Try setting up a bedtime routine to help you relax and wind down before bed. Go to sleep at the same time each night and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep.

  • Avoid Overdoing It With Caffeine And Alcohol.

    It’s tempting to reach for a glass of wine or a beer each day to help you relax these days, but that’s a bad idea. While it might make you feel good in the moment, alcohol only increases your feelings of anxiety, causes disruptions in your sleep, and creates a vicious cycle that may be hard to break.

    The same goes for caffeine.  Limit how much you drink each day to avoid restless sleep at night.

Limit Your Screen Time.

Yes, now’s a great time to catch up on some TV that you may have been missing out on, but be careful of how much time you’re spending in front of a screen.  Computers, phones, and TV may be great distractions, but they can also be huge time-sucks, and depending on what you’re reading or watching, they may only make your anxiety worse.  Set some limits and stick to them.

Get Ready Each Day.

It’s easy to rationalize not getting ready if you’re not going anywhere. But sticking to your normal routine and getting dressed and put together in the morning can help set your day off to a good start by improving your mood and boosting your self-confidence. So take the time to do a little primping – you’ll feel the effects of it for the whole day.

Take time for yourself.

Give yourself a break and allow yourself to do nothing. We’ve all had grandiose thoughts of what we’d do with this time at home. Learn a new language! Get in the best shape of our lives! Learn an instrument. In reality, most of us have been treading water, trying to stay afloat (and sane!). Taking care of friends or caring for a loved one, worrying about job security, etc. It’s ok to take some time for yourself – in fact, it’s a necessity if you want to keep your sanity.  So read a book, find a hobby you enjoy, or take a bath.

Connect with loved ones.

One of the hardest things about the coronavirus is having to limit our contact with friends and family. For those that live alone, this can be especially difficult and may lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Try to find things you can do each day to still feel connected with your loved ones. That may include sending a text or an email, giving someone a call, or even writing them a letter. Connect online with a video call, or gather a group of friends together to play a game (we love these fun games from JackBox!). Start a virtual book club in your neighborhood, or have a pseudo “dinner party” and invite friends to join you in a meal online – anything that you can do to continue your connections.

Do Something For Someone Else

Helping others is always a great mood booster and helps to give us a sense of purpose. There are lots of things you can do right now for others:

  • Check-in on friends and neighbors with a note or a phone call to see if they need anything, or just to say hello.

  • If you’re able to, get someone’s groceries and drop them off at their door.

  • Have you caught the baking bug this year? Drop off a loaf of bread or homemade cookies to a friend or neighbor.

  • If you’re tech-savvy, help those who may be having trouble online to get their COVID-19 vaccine scheduled.

Meditate.

Meditation has been practiced for ages to help improve physical and mental health. Besides reducing your stress and anxiety, meditation can improve your focus and concentration, improve self-esteem, and even foster kindness.

Not sure where to start? Here’s an excellent guide for beginners. You can also download apps like Headspace or Calm, which provide guided meditations and relaxation techniques, and sounds to help you with your practice.

Reach Out If You Feel Overwhelmed.

It’s no secret that the mental health of many has taken a hit the last year. And while some levels of stress and anxiety are normal, it’s important to recognize when you’re just not feeling yourself.

If you start to feel depressed or unwell, get help. Call your doctor if your feelings are getting in the way of your day-to-day activities. Talk to a close friend or family and ask for their support. Or, if you start feeling thoughts of suicide, or need help with substance abuse, call a crisis line, or a suicide prevention line offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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