The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us stressed and worn out. We have all faced changes to our daily routines, reduced contact with friends and family, and a loss of our sense of normalcy. Many Skagitonians have been hit with financial challenges due to job loss or changes to their businesses that could not have been anticipated prior to a few months ago. Adding to the stress is that the pandemic conditions appear to be getting worse and there is not a definite end in sight.
You have probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response. This response works well if you need to run away from a bear, but not so great for long-term stressors like the COVID pandemic.
So what can you do if you are feeling stressed and worn out?
1. Limit how often you check news or spend time on social media.
It is important to be well-informed about the pandemic. Although some people take comfort in being informed, it is easy to get worked up and anxious from watching nonstop news coverage. Have you heard of the term “doomscrolling?” It’s a newly coined word for scrolling through a never-ending doom-and-gloom on your Twitter or Facebook feed for hours and hours. Many of us do it, but we can all find better ways to spend our time.
If you want to stay informed, you should seek out COVID-19 information from local and trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington State Department of Health or Skagit County Public Health. And set reasonable limits for the time you spend on social media.
2. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, change your routine.
We are now four months into the pandemic, and most people have settled into a familiar routine. Many of us are spending more time than ever at home and are growing tired of looking at the same four walls as our days blur together. If you feel like you are stuck in the same rut day after day, you should mix up your routine.
How? If your employer allows you to work from home and is open to flexible work hours, you can try working a different schedule. Take the time to exercise before you start work, or take a longer lunch hour and go for a long walk and end your workday later.
You can also take advantage of the time cooped up in your home by focusing on a do-it-yourself project that you have been putting off. Clean your garage, touch up some peeling paint, or take on a project in your yard. In addition to keeping you busy, when you are done with the project you will get the added satisfaction from having completed a project.
3. Find healthy ways to let off some stress.
The CDC provides some great tips on coping with stress during COVID. Most are common sense tips like:
- Take care of your body—stretch or meditate, eat healthy well-balanced meals, and exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
4. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help.
For some people, general stress and pandemic fatigue can become more serious. You should watch for warning signs that you’re having trouble coping, and should call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
If you do not know where to turn, Skagit County is maintaining a list of behavioral health services and resources. A few key resources that are available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year are:
- Care Crisis Line: 800-584-3578
- Crisis Chat: www.imhurting.org
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and know that like all pandemics, this one will eventually end.