Coping with COVID-19 Stress

Learning to cope with the stress of a pandemic

For the first time in 40 years, on June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the start of a flu pandemic. The CDC estimated that between 151,700 and 575,400 people died worldwide from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year of circulation. This virus was detected first in the United States in April 2009 before quickly spreading throughout the rest of the world.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared another pandemic with it being called Coronavirus or COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 was thought to be serious enough for the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic, there were still some leaders that did not heed the warnings and take proper actions.

The same leader or leaders that did not take COVID-19 seriously, spent months saying it was nothing more than a hoax and then claiming it was not even as serious as the normal flu. I find the ignorance and shame it takes to call this deadly virus the Chinese virus simply because it began in China absolutely ridiculous. I mean, no one ever referred to H1N1 as the American virus because it began in the United States, so what gives anyone the right to call COVID-19 the Chinese virus or any other demeaning name they think of?

There is one leader in particular that continues to blame everyone else for the virus but fails to blame the person he sees in the mirror every day for the 129,545 American’s that died because of this virus. Worldwide there have been more than 511,000 people who lost their lives due to COVID-19. We will never know now if only action was taken sooner not as many people would have had to die.

There is no denying the fact that being faced with a pandemic, which has already taken the lives of many, is stressful. Most of us have been overwhelmed with distress and anxiety due to this virus. Although actions such as social distancing are imperative for safety reasons, it can cause additional stress and anxiety from being isolated and lonely.

As we continue undergoing the pandemic of an infectious disease outbreak, there are several other issues that we may experience, including but not limited to the following:

– Fear for your health and the health of your loved ones

– Worry for your financial situation and or job security

– Changes in your sleep and or eating patterns

– Troubles sleeping and or concentrating

– Decline in chronic health problems

– Intensifying issues of mental health issues

– Increased use of tobacco and or alcohol and other substances

Everyone responds to stressful situations differently. Even though we dealt with the H1N1 pandemic back in 2009, I do not remember being as concerned and terrified as I have been with COVID-19. The crazy thing is during 2009, I worked for a hospital system with the Employee Health Department. I had constant interaction with people that tested positive for the flu, but never really worried. Of course, I wore a mask and washed my hands multiple times a day and thankfully never got the flu.

I do realize I am not the only one that remains worried about COVID-10, but I can also understand there is no amount of worrying that will make this situation any easier. Granted even if we lived next door to each other, chances are we wouldn’t be able to see one another and would only be able to offer support virtually. We can do this now and help each other to lessen the massive burdens of stress we are all enduring.

I am going to share a few ideas I discovered that will hopefully help reduce the stress we have all been trying our best to manage.

1. Limit Media Time-

Most people have already proven the ability to practice social distancing to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. With already understanding the importance of social distancing for the good of our health, we should be able to understand why distancing ourselves from the media would be in the best interest of our mental well-being. It seems like the media has 24/7 COVID coverage, which can be beneficial in small doses but can also be very negative causing additional anxiety for those who already had concerns. If you are anything like me (I am so sorry for you), you are already feeling extreme anxiousness. When we are becoming more anxious, we should consider taking a break from all news outlets and the view the news only twice a day at most!

2. Stop Engaging with worry-

Regardless if you are worried about yourself or a loved one contracting the virus or being out of work, the more you focus your attention on the worst-case scenarios, the more anxious and stressed you will feel. Of course, we are not able to stop thoughts from entering our minds, but we can choose to not dwell on those thoughts and instead decide to take action towards solving the problems at hand. I think we are all logical enough to understand the enormous differences between worrying and solving the problems we face. Our mind will often try to bait us into worrying, so we need to avoid taking that bait. Our feelings of anxiety will try baiting us with the many “what if” questions that we need to try avoiding answering because it only leads us down dark and endless roads. During times like these, we need to focus our attention elsewhere and on the more positive aspects. I do know during these stressful times, finding the silver lining might be challenging, but it is there.

3. Do not react to physical symptoms-

Just because you or someone around you coughs does not mean it is because of COVID-19. People have allergies, bronchitis, post-nasal drip, or a common cold and these issues are the much more likely explanation. We all know the seasons can cause numerous issues, so it is best to not assume COVID-19 every time you so much as hear a cough, but being aware of your surroundings and following safety protocols should always be followed. For your mental health and well-being, do not continuously scan your body searching for COVID-19 symptoms. The only things this behavior will do is cause unnecessary worry and intensify our already high anxiety levels.

4. Focus on productivity and newer ways of enjoyment-

Unfortunately, we do not have any control over the crisis the world is experiencing currently and the only thing we can control is our response. How many times in the past were you overloaded with work and maintaining your home, but discovered something new you wanted to try? With how much our everyday lives have changed and we are now living our “new normal”, we might finally through no fault of our own have time for new adventures. We can learn a new skill or fine-tune something we used to do back before life got crazy with work and family. Now is the time to put our attention on creating and accomplishing, instead of the virus and or our employment status.

5. Seize the moment in stress-reducing activities-

There are numerous different things we can try that could help reduce the vast amount of stress we might be experiencing during these trying times. As few ideas may include focusing on the things we are grateful for, exercising our bodies, guided meditation, and yoga are things that may help us relax our minds. Anything we may want to learn can easily be found on YouTube; there are many simple videos to follow along with on just about anything we can think of. Just think, once we are finally past this crisis we will not only have learned something new, but also appreciate all the simple things in life we may have taken for granted before such as dinner out at our favorite restaurant, a night out at the movies, and even something as simple as a haircut.

6. Follow CDC guidelines, but do not go overboard-

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sing happy birthday or twinkle, twinkle little star, whichever you prefer. This does not mean washing your hands until they are red and dry. In the event soap and water isn’t available, you can use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others outside your home. Wear face covering when around others out in the public. Despite what some might say, it is not necessary to remove all your clothing before entering your home.

7. Maintain a sense of normalcy-

During these crazy times, it may be challenging to continue your day as you normally would with some modifications, so this could require adding a little creativity. Before the pandemic, you may have gone to the gym for your workout, but now you have to work out in your home. Instead of dinner out with friends, maybe you have dinner or drinks by a video platform. Continuing life with a structure to our day and any type of an appearance of normalcy will help reduce any additional anxieties.

8. Show kindness for yourself and others-

During a time of national crisis, it is normal to feel anxious and worried. Remember while you are having these feelings, people you know are probably having the same feelings. Reaching out to family, friends, and neighbors who have been isolated, the same as all the rest of us may need a little boost in their spirits. Sometimes a simple phone call will not only heighten our spirits but also improve the person on the other end of the phone mood as well. If you are currently unemployed because of the pandemic, your new job is to have faith that this storm in life will pass and something new will come along and everything will work out for the best!

I meant to have this post out yesterday, but obviously wasn’t able to. For some unknown reason I had a lack in motivation and also continued getting distracted with many other things. I guess maybe it was the mixture of emotions I am feeling for starting my new job Monday. I am not overly nervous or excited; it is pretty much a good balance between the two. I have been out of work for many months now and honestly I have not ever worked from home on a permanent basis. I know I will be able to handle the work from home status well because I have always been extremely organized and disciplined. I did work in the same industry my work from home job is for several years prior to my husband and I relocated and did very well with it. If I am not mistaken the work I am going to be doing is almost exactly the same, but I have heard from a reliable resource that my new company is far more organized than the company I worked for previously.

Thank you for stopping by my site today and I do hope this information was helpful for you! I did only list 8 possible stress relieving ideas, but I do know there are many more and you probably already have some. I do hope you will share your thoughts on this important topic because it will help anyone that reads this. I hope your week is going well, you are feeling the best you possibly can, and you are continuing to remain safe. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, and many positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

Staying sane during insane times

globalNever in a million years did I ever think we would be going through a pandemic in 2020. I can’t seem to be able to wrap my mind around how many people, young and old have died because of something that was so incredibly unforeseen. How does something this deadly even come into existence? Was this manmade and created in a laboratory?  And if so, was it released purposefully or accidentally? Was this meant to kill people all around the world? There are so many unanswered questions in the minds of many around the world and I believe it is during these tragic times we all need to work together through these terrifying days.

The last time there was a deadly global pandemic was the Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 H1N1 virus and was between 1918 and 1920. The Spanish flu was first identified in the United State in the spring of 1918 in military personnel. It was estimated that approximately 500 million people and accounts for one-third of the world’s population had been infected. The CDC estimated that 50 million people died hqdefault (1)from this virus worldwide with 675,000 occurring in the United States.

With the Spanish flu, the mortality rate was higher in people younger than 5 years old, between 20 and 40 years old, and those 65 years and older. High mortality among healthy people, between 20 and 40 years old was a distinctive feature of this pandemic. This virus was synthesized and evaluated; the properties it was made up with were very devastating and not well understood. Unfortunately, there was not a vaccine to protect people from the virus and no antibodies to treat secondary bacterial infections associated with influenza infection. There were limited ways to control this virus, such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, utilizing disinfectants, and limiting public gatherings.maxresdefault

It is mind-blowing, 102 years after the Spanish flu pandemic that killed 50 million people globally that we are facing another lethal pandemic. According to the Worldometer, as of today, there have been 2,906,751 confirmed cases worldwide and 206,669 deaths in 210 countries and territories due to COVID-19. We have only been aware of how detrimental this virus is before about 3 months, but truthfully it started in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

anxiety-tips-web-500x375The stresses and rational concerns we are all coping with can be overwhelming. The stresses can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Uneasiness and distress of your health and the health of loved ones
  • Sleep disturbances or eating patterns
  • Complications concentrating
  • Declining of chronic and mental health conditions
  • Escalated use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

The good news is there are numerous ways we can control the amount of stress we are feeling. Of course, everyone responds, feels, and copes with stress in different ways, but I do hope the ways to cope with the stress I am going to share will be beneficial for you:

  1. Constantly watching or reading about the pandemic can be very disturbing, so the mind should take breaks from all of it. The continuous devastatingly heartbreaking information we are hearing and reading can take a massive toll on us, but we do image3have the ability to control this.
  2. Don’t forget to take care of your body. A few examples to care for your body are:
  • Stretch daily, do deep breathing exercises or meditate
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Develop a regular exercise regimen
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs, they will only create more issues causing stress
  1. Remember to take time to unwind. Attempt doing other activities you find enjoyable.
  2. Find alternate ways to connect with others, while we are still maintaining social distancing. Discuss the concerns you have with people you are comfortable confiding in.

coronavirus-anxiety-stressMany people around the world are feeling extreme levels of stress and uncertainty at this moment. As we try to maintain some sense of normalcy in our lives, we also need to understand how staying optimistic will help our mental health and immune system stay as strong as it can. Even if where you live ends restrictions staying home if you feel positivrunwell and continuing social distancing should remain in effect until there are far fewer cases and fatalities.

Over the years, many studies have provided an interconnection between good overall health and optimism. Of course, some skeptics that would prefer to argue that it is more an individual’s good health that makes them positive instead of vice versa. Regardless if the studies are correct or not, it is not a far-fetched thought to say optimistic people are generally happier than pessimistic people.

Whether you are an optimistic person or a pessimistic person, I am going to share a few simple ideas that may help improves your positive outlooks!

  1. Implement gratefulness. During times when life seems desolated, there are still many things we should be grateful for. Trying starting a gratefulness journal. Acknowledge both notable and small items you are thankful for. Include as much detail into this practice as you can. Important things could be your home, family, and friends, the ability to provide food for yourself and family, and any other things that are necessities. The smaller things might be simple short-lived pleasures such as a good book, a calming warm bath, or a hot cup of coffee or tea.
  2. Create a positive routine that you begin your day with. Even once we make it through this crisis that has plagued our lives for months now, morning routines are vital! It is best to not immediately check the news when you wake up; the news isn’t going anywhere and will still be available to view once you have had time to center yourself. It is astonishing how much a simple morning smile can begin your day off on a positive note.
  3. Slow down. Many of us are always in a huge rush to do things, which includes jumping to conclusions with information we heard on the news. There are some positive aspects of being isolated in our homes, it does allow us the ability to pace ourselves and not dwell on our anxieties caused by the pandemic. Focusing on things that are surrounding us in the present moment can be beneficial. Turn down the volume of our thoughts relating to stress and pay closer attention to our inner voices.
  4. Relax your entire body. Pay very close attention to your muscles, if you begin feeling your shoulders and or jaw tensing, take slow deep breaths and relax. Be aware of your muscles from head to toe and your breathing during the day, which will also assist with your mindfulness.
  5. Ensure that exercise is a part of your daily routine. If you are already an active person, you have probably already made adjustments to your workouts being at home instead of a gym. If however, you are not very active, try to incorporate some form of exercise into your life. Exercising can be beneficial both physically and mentally because it releases endorphins that target the feelings of positivity.
  6. Initiate and encourage a digital community. We all should be continuing to practice social distancing, but that does not mean we are not able to stay in touch with family and friends. Modern technology has given ways for video calls; group chats, and even allows us access to virtual parties and concerts, which are all amazing options. I had my first ever virtual call on Wednesday with my doctor’s office, which I could to be a fabulous way to communicate with the Nurse Practitioner without subjecting myself to possibly being exposed to COVID-19. During these times of massive uncertainty, it is crucial to know some of our friends and family members are dealing with the same stresses we are and maybe we could offer one another some positivity.
  7. Utilize diaphragmatic breathing, which will assist in strengthening an important muscle that helps us breathe, our diaphragm. You can also begin to include meditation into your life and doing multiple short mindfulness exercises throughout the day. A useful pattern to begin your day with is gratefulness meditation, and then incorporates a breathing exercise halfway through your day, and sleep meditation at bedtime. If you would like to read some great meditation examples, I encourage you to visit Bella’s website https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/, she gives some fabulous and extremely helpful advice. Diaphragmatic breathing also has other benefits including lowering stress hormones and your heart rate and helps you to relax.
  8. Embrace humor and laughter in your life daily. We have all probably heard that laughter can be the best medicine, so it would make perfect sense why this is extremely important. The ability to find humor daily can improve your positiveness and benefit from a more optimistic nature. There have been several studies confirming the short-term and long-term benefits of laughter on the mind and body. The benefits include stimulating our organs, lessening stress levels, enhancing blood circulation, building up our immune system, and alleviating physical pains we may have.
  9. Avoid or at least walk away from distressing discussions and situations. Due to the fears involved with the pandemic, everyone is very well aware of; massive amounts of stress are also a strong possibility. During these times it can be easy to be pulled into pessimistic interactions which can intensify how we were already feeling. We can also become obsessed with the news, which alone can create overwhelming levels of panic. It is important to be aware and knowledgeable about what is happening in the world, it is also crucial to have a healthy balance between the amount of news we are taking in and a daily routine in efforts to maintain our mental health.
  10. Hold onto faith. This does not necessarily have anything to do with religion, but if you are religious you might be able to gain strength and optimism from your beliefs. When I stated hold onto faith, I am suggesting your faith in humanity, science, medical professionals, and the good in mankind. It’s about maintaining faith in our resilience, kindness, empathy, commitment, and the desire for a good healthy life for all.

we are in this togetherWe were all leading the life we yearned for before the pandemic and there is no reason we can’t get back to that point in time. It is going to require patience, persistence, and a great deal of resilience. I do think it is also best, regardless of what the governor of your state or president says, to avoid gatherings of too many people, practice good hand-washing, and definitely social distancing.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope the information provided was helpful to you and your family. I would love to read your thoughts on all of this and promise to respond as quickly as I can. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort, and many positive vibes!

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❤Always, Alyssa❤

Finding Inner Peace

inner-peaceDo y’all know what does inner peace means? Inner peace is a state in which you are mentally and spiritually at peace, despite the potential of any stressors that might arise. When you truly have inner peace, you have fully accepted yourself and therefore, do not waste your precious time, energy, and attention on unimportant thoughts. Inner peace is the direct opposite of anxiety and worries.

There are things we can do to find our inner peace.

  1. Set your limits-set limit

By knowing when to stop, we can minimize being preoccupied with certain things that do not matter in the bigger picture of life. What this means is we can set a certain amount of time to spend on social media because that is something we do not need to spend unnecessary time on. I am sure many people will disagree with me on this, but we can live without social media, we can survive!

  1. Try to relax-

take breathExperiment with deep breathing exercises to help release your tension. Deep breathing is something that can be done anytime and anywhere. You can practice breathing in through your nose slowly, allowing your chest and belly to rise as your lungs fill with air, hold inhale for 4 seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds.

If this doesn’t work for you, do a little research on other relaxation techniques until you find the one that works best for you.

  1. Don’t make any issue bigger than it is-

When facing an issue you think is huge, take a break and ask yourself if this situation will still matter in a few days, weeks, months, or years. Asking and answering this question will help you to keep things in perspective.

  1. Slow downslow down

Constantly being stressed and panicked can have many negative effects on your mind and overall health. Most often by simply slowing down, you will have a chance to lower the feelings of stress.

  1. Unclutter your life-

If your workspace or home is cluttered, it may keep your mind preoccupied. Personally, when my house is a mess, my thoughts remain fixated on everything I have to do. I tend to make a to-do list with everything I need to-do in order of importance. The issue with this is, I only make the to-do list in my mind and then feel keep-calm-and-be-a-minimalistoverwhelmed, which nothing gets done.

  1. Be a minimalist-

This can remove the unnecessary distractions from your life, allowing for peace of mind, clarity, and focus on a welcomed new thought process.

  1. Be prompt-

Even though being prompt might be a small and easy habit, it can be a huge help for our schedules. Maybe being 10-15 minutes early will only give you those extra minutes to relax and recharge, but you will be amazed to how much it helps our mental status. Every free minute we have in this unpredictable and stressful world is very beneficial to our body!

  1. Learn to accept and let go

We all have heard that saying, the past should stay in the past. It seems that this notionlet_go_expectations has been lost, but we need to try to bring it back into our thoughts. Nothing will ever change, no matter how much we stress or constantly think about it. It will be in everyone’s best interest to focus our attention solely on the present, never the past or even the future.

  1. Ask, don’t guess-

Most of what causes our stress is our assumptions. The truth is, no one can read minds, but too many still try which only causes too much unnecessary anxiety. Instead of assuming anything, we need to have much more open communication and ask escapequestions!

  1. Escape for a short time

       What this means is to allow yourself time to recharge and even some soul searching. This isn’t quitting anything; you are just enhancing your life!

  1. Quit Procrastinating

      I know not all problems can be solved quickly, but we can’t procrastinate trying to solve our problems. Honestly, the longer we wait, the more tension and stress we will feel.

  1. Disconnect from work-

Your work life should never belong in your home. Weekends and time not at work are offline-is-peace-of-mindyour time to recharge and not think about deadlines. I was never good at this when I had a job and wish I had adopted this thought process a long time ago, but I will when I do have a job again.

  1. One thing at a time-

There are times when multitasking can be a great quality. However, multitasking can also cause too much stress. The thought process of focusing on one thing at a time can be healthier for your health because it will take a lot of stress off your shoulders. Everything will still get done in time.

  1. Focus on good memories-

focus-on-a-positive-memoryWe tend to focus too much on our bad memories, instead of all the good memories we have. Maybe we do this because those bad memories caused some trauma and we will rethink what we could have done, but that isn’t going to fix anything. If we try replacing our bad memories with good ones, we will hold onto the strength we felt during the good memories. This might take time, but it will be beneficial to our mental and physical health.

  1. Meditate daily-Daily-Meditation-1-735x675

Meditating is the most common way to discover your inner peace. By meditating even for just 15 minutes a day, it will help you discover and hold onto your inner peace. A fellow blogger shares some pretty amazing meditation ideas, so I will encourage you to check out her site. Bella’s site is https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/

positive vibesThank you for stopping by my site today. I do hope, if you haven’t already visited Bella’s site, you will do so soon. I promise you will not be disappointed because she is pretty great!! I am looking forward to reading your comments about this post because I know you will provide great insight! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love ❤, comfort, and many positive vibes!

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❤Always, Alyssa❤