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Published on March 26, 2020

How to Relieve Stress during the Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to extend its reach across the globe, heightening emotions for countless numbers of people. This is a first time experience for all, causing responses of stress and anxiety. Diane E. Custer, MD, chair of Psychiatry at Abington – Jefferson Health, provides some tips to live stress free during this difficult time.

Stress Relief Activities

It is normal to be stressed or anxious in an evolving situation like COVID-19. Here are some tips to relieve stress:

Connect with Friends and Family Using Technology

Technology continues to offer new ways to connect with friends and family. Keep in contact through devices and apps like Skype, FaceTime, and What’s App. Reach out to others and offer to help them in safe ways.

Exercise

In any setting, exercise is a great stress reliever with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. Investigate, learn and practice new exercises like yoga and use simple stretching exercises. Relaxation exercises such as patterned breathing and meditation are helpful additions. To prevent injury, start from where you are in the exercise continuum of beginner to expert. If you have health conditions, make sure the exercise is approved by your health care team and do not exceed your limitations.

Explore New Hobbies

Now is the time to explore new or old interests and complete some home projects that have been on your to-do list. Activities like these will keep you busy throughout the long hours at home.

Listen to Music

Plug in your headphones and turn on your speakers. Listening to both soothing and uplifting music can positively influence your emotions.

Outdoor Activities

Step away from media and get outside. Remember to maintain a six-foot social distance from others. Remember that you are helping others by following social isolation practices.

Read and Watch Movies

Experience healthy dissociation by reading and watching movies. Let each storyline capture your imagination, carry you away and reduce your awareness of your day-to-day concerns.

Professional Advice

With cities and counties establishing lockdowns, many are also adjusting to the additional stress of a work-from-home routine. “Create structure and routine that aligns with your normal work day,” Dr. Custer suggests. “Stable immune function and mental health are supported by going to bed, waking up, eating and exercising at roughly the same time every day.”

For those who are feeling especially stressed or anxious, talk with trusted friends, family members or healthcare professionals about COVID-19 and utilize your employee assistance program, if possible. “Practice self-talk and remind yourself that you have been through difficult situations before that eventually passed and that you found ways to cope in the past.” says Dr. Custer.

Do not completely isolate yourself. Continue to keep up-to-date with current information about the COVID-19 outbreak from trusted sources such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, avoid overexposing yourself to constant media coverage about COVID-19 and excessive use of alcohol or substances to suppress your feelings. It is important to use mindfulness to tune into your own needs. Take the time to notice how you are feeling emotionally and what you need to manage your emotions in a healthy way.

If you are in need of further assistance, call Abington – Jefferson Health’s crisis hotline at 215-481-2525. The following hotlines are also available:

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