School closures. Empty grocery shelves. Stay-at-home orders. Many of us are struggling to manage the disruptions to everyday life due to the coronavirus. Worry about loved ones getting sick, employment and financial concerns, childcare issues, social isolation, and other hardships can be overwhelming at times, to the point of emotional and physical distress.

Healthy coping strategies can help to restore emotional balance when it seems that so many things are out of our control. Here are some tips on coping with stress and maintaining your mental health during these difficult times:

Always make your health a priority. Adequate rest, good nutrition, and regular exercise can keep you healthy and better able to handle stressful situations. Avoid using alcohol, caffeine, or other drugs to ease stress. Caffeine can make you feel jittery and anxious. Alcohol and other drugs may provide temporary relief in the short run, but contribute to depression and anxiety and aggravate stress in the long run.
Take a break from the news. The constant cycle of negative world news can be anxiety-provoking, and the Internet is filled with misleading and inaccurate information. Pick a news source you trust but limit your viewing. You can stay informed on coronavirus updates via the CDC website, which posts current information.
Practice calming techniques to manage stress. Meditation, yoga, and physical activity can help stabilize your mood. Doing something that distracts you and makes you feel good can ease worry and anxiety.
Vent with loved ones. Turn to your loved ones and close friends for support, even if you can’t see them in person right now. If you’re at home with family members, use this time to relax with them and reconnect.
Maintain your sense of humor. Laughter can relieve stress and be a pleasant distraction from all that’s going on. Turn off the news and turn on a comedy.
Make a point to be kind and help others if possible. Now, more than ever, we need to pull together as a society to deal with this crisis. Look for ways you can help, even if it’s from the confinement of home. Perhaps it’s writing cards to seniors who can’t receive visitors. Or perhaps it’s helping a child keep up with school work via online tutoring.
Maintain a sense of perspective and look for the positives. Remind yourself of the many positive and important things in your life.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always choose how to respond. We can choose positive thoughts over negative thoughts, and hope over fear.

InterCommunity Health Care offers a full range of primary care, mental health and addiction recovery services for people of all ages. To receive services at any of our Hartford, East Hartford, or South Windsor locations, please call 860-569-5900.