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Tips For Dealing With Virus-Related Stress and Anxiety

By Mar 31, 2020 Health & Wellbeing
Dr. Lincoln Miyasaka is a family medicine doctor at Shanghai United Family Healthcare. Below, he shares tips for dealing with anxiety, worry and a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in reaction to the current coronavirus crisis.

1. Cooperate with the health authorities by protecting yourself and your family. Stay home if this is the recommendation. Only go out if really needed.

2. If you go out, keep a distance of 2 meters from other people, and don't touch your face.

3. Hand Hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly when you return home. This involves washing the palms, back of the hands, between fingers, the nail area and the wrists. It should take about 20 seconds. Clean your cell phone and keys. There is no need to wash the hands all the time if you are at home; washing too often can cause inflammation of the skin.

4. If you are working or studying at home, try to keep the same regular schedule as before: wake up, eat and go to bed at the same time. This helps you to have a sense of normality and control.

5. Keep your immune system in good shape by eating healthy and exercising. You can download an app to learn and practice exercises, for example, tai chi or aerobic exercise. Physical activity is an effective way to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. It is also important not to stay awake too late at night. Sun exposure is important for your body to create vitamin D from direct sunlight which is essential for healthy bones.

6. Limit your internet time. Avoid reading too much about the virus by limiting reading / viewing time to 15-20 minutes per day. Excessive and especially incorrect information is unhelpful because it can increase anxiety. Be careful with data sources and avoid ill-informed opinion pieces. Look for facts on official sites (WHO, CDC, John Hopkins, etc.).

7. Observe your behavior: shaking, difficulty in sleeping, tension, fear of going out, excessive washing of hands or sanitizing, restlessness, persistent worrying. All these symptoms can be signs of anxiety. If you think you might need help, talk to your doctor or mental health specialist (psychologist or psychiatrist). They will be glad to help you. Observe your family member’s behavior as well as your own.

8. Staying at home for long durations of time can be stressful. Create quality time with your family: play games together, share in the house chores, use creativity to cultivate a better and meaningful relationship. You can learn a new instrument, a new language, a new skill such as culinary arts, read a new book.

9. Support and encourage one another: It is a good opportunity to connect with your friends through internet (WeChat, Facebook, etc.) to keep in touch and encourage one another.

10. There are things we cannot do at this time (maybe we cannot travel as we wanted to or go to school as before) but there are many things we can do. Focus on things you can do. Not everyone is able to go to the frontline to help now but staying home and being safe is a great contribution. You can also consider helping in other ways such as blood donation for example. There is currently a huge need for blood. (WeChat: BloodlineFamily). This is a great way to help save lives.



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