Strategies to Cope with Stress and Anxiety


Covid-19 outbreak can cause intense anxiety for you or your environment. As Psychosocial Support Unit, we have compiled what you can do in the face of this intense anxiety.

The feeling of anxiety is not a distant feeling in our lives. Therefore, first, consider how you deal with anxiety in your daily life. Remember what works for you. It would be very useful to think about it. That is because, as with some basic coping strategies, the method that works for everyone may differ.

We have compiled a list to deal with anxiety.

Communicate with your loved ones:

Connect with your loved ones through phone, message, video chat etc. It is really helpful to feel the strength of your bond with your loved ones, even if you cannot be physically with them.

Access Reliable Resources:

By accessing reliable medical sources of information and by getting information about the virus, you can prevent false information. Do not act on gossip speculation (WHO, 2020).

Limit Time:

Please do not overdo it when trying to follow the updates. Follow the latest developments at certain times, once or twice during the day. Get updates from reliable sources in the morning and check back briefly towards the end of the day. However, stop being involved with such content at least 1-2 hours before your sleep time. Trying to keep abreast of 24/7 developments increases your anxiety.

Enjoy Being at Home:

Since you need to spend more time at home than ever, using this time well will make you feel good. Create new habits, hobbies, and activities that you can apply to yourself at home. You can do exercise, paint, read books, watch movies, play board games with family members or friends, listen to music, grow flowers, etc.

You can also review the list of things you have planned to do for a long time. You can create a list of topics or review the list that you have already prepared on books you want to read, movies you want to watch, poems you want to memorize, works you postpone, etc. You can sort out your clothes you have not used for a long time and give them to those in need. The same applies to all other items (pens, notebooks, jewelry, etc.). In this way, getting rid of the excess will give both a convenience and a relaxing feeling in your daily life.

List of activities that make you happy:

There are activities that we are all happy when we do. The list of them depends on one’s own needs and areas of happiness. What activities are you happy to do? Take time to think about it and write down whatever comes to your mind. You can sort the list you write from the activity that makes you the most happy to the less happy. Then start applying the appropriate ones in this list. You may first think that you are not as happy as before. This is normal. But as you start doing it, you will see its effect.

Example list:

1- Reading crime books

2- Calling friends

3- Trying new recipes

4- Playing sports etc.

Personal care:

You can take this process as an opportunity to care for yourself and to spare time for yourself. When one moves away from social environments, it is seen that personal care generally decreases. However, both for our physical and mental health, it is beneficial not to disrupt personal care even if you do not go out much. You can even apply beautiful treatments to your skin or hair, which you normally cannot spare time, with natural and simple materials! Spending time with yourself and beautifying your environment can turn this process into an opportunity for you. It will also reduce your stress and anxiety. So how can you have a better time with yourself in this period?

Nice scents:

There are soothing and relaxing scents. These scents can vary from person to person. You may find a fragrance that relaxes you, and having this fragrance in your room can relieve you. Having nice scents in your environment will reduce your stress.

Room cleaning / layout:

Your rooms may be where you spend the most time in this process. Keeping your room tidy and clean, making changes in the room from time to time, and cleaning it will be good for you, will help you get away from your thoughts and relax.

Exercise:

Exercising in this period will have a positive effect on your health just as much as eating well and regular sleep. So even if you are at home, you can set up simple exercises to do even where you sit. Doing certain movements twice a day, for certain periods of time, will be good for both physical and psychological health. E.g; Some sit-ups, picking apples, or some exercise ideas you can access online.

Relax!

You cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time. Therefore, relaxing your body with some exercises will help you cope with anxiety. You can listen to relaxing music while doing the exercises we will suggest below.

Breathing Exercises:

Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing.

Take a deep breath from your nose, hold your breath for a while (4-5 seconds) and slowly exhale.

Inflate your abdomen like a balloon with your breath, not your chest.

Relax your shoulder and neck muscles as much as possible.

You will notice that the tension has disappeared from your body in a very short time.

 

Muscle Relaxation Exercises:

It is a technique that the main muscle groups in the body tighten and relax by turns. You can apply this process from head to foot or from foot to head. Tighten and relax the forehead, eyes, chin, nape, shoulder, upper back, upper arm, forearm, hand, abdomen, groin, leg, hip, calf and foot muscles. You can tighten each muscle group for 5 seconds and relax for 10-15 seconds.

Mindfulness Exercise 5–4–3–2–1… Let the senses move!

After taking a deep breath, respectively:

  • See / identify 5 objects: Identify the 5 objects you see around you, just say their names.
  • Hear 4 sounds: If you are listening to music, mute the music and describe the 4 sounds you hear in the environment. If you cannot escape from the music, you can define 4 different instruments you hear.
  • Feel 3 things: Here you are defining the feeling of touch. For example, feel your feet in your shoes, the wooden pencil you touch with your hand, the wind touching your face, etc.
  • Smell 2 things: Identify different odors you get from the environment. If a single smell comes to your nose at that moment, you can identify it by smelling something different. If your nose is clogged, imagine a flower and food you love.
  • Taste 1 thing: You can define the current taste in your mouth or drink a sip of water.

When you return to the moment, it becomes easier to understand what is the main thing that worries you. So you can better understand if there is anything to do at that moment. If there is nothing to do, there is no need for anxiety. Likewise, when you discover what you can do, uncertainty disappears and you can focus on what to do instead of struggling with emotions.

If you think that your anxiety level is still high even after following these recommendations, if you frequently experience the symptoms mentioned above, and if your daily functionality is seriously affected, you can contact your university guidance and research center REDAM or psychotherapy practice and research center IPAM.

Keep safe and healthy!

redam@ihu.edu.tr

ipam@ihu.edu.tr

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