There’s no denying it: The world looks different nowadays. Even as the state slowly settles into a new normal, masks are still being worn, people are steering clear of each other on the sidewalk, and many businesses and restaurants are limiting capacity. Experiencing this new world may cause anxiety, stress and even fear surrounding activities such as returning to the office, attending small social gatherings and helping your child navigate through a new school year.
“People who have been home for a few months are likely going to have some anticipatory anxiety,” said Sheerli Ratner, PhD, a psychologist at MetroHealth. “Anticipatory anxiety is worrying about something that hasn’t yet happened and possibly never will. That’s because there are so many unknowns with this pandemic.”
Change associated with the pandemic, such as having to shut down quickly in March, and then receiving new COVID-19 safety guidelines nearly every week, can also cause wear and tear on your psyche, she said.
Dr. Ratner has some tips to help you stay centered.
Find creative and safe ways to socialize.
Socializing can boost your mood. Meet a friend for coffee outdoors, have a socially distanced picnic, go for a walk while staying six feet apart or catch up through a video conferencing app.
Turn off your screens.
Too much time watching the news and scrolling through social media can raise your stress levels.
Spending time in nature can help manage depression and anxiety. Going for a walk or riding a bike can burn off the stress hormone cortisol and release endorphins that make you feel good.
A good night’s rest can reduce depression and anxiety. Practice good sleep hygiene such as going to bed at the same time every night and making sure your bedroom is cool and dark. Regular exercise can also help you get some z’s.
Good nutrition can help lower stress and boost your immune system. Eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins like chicken and fish, and whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat.
Tap into your spirituality.
Whether this involves going to a socially distanced church service, attending a service via Zoom or practicing mindfulness and meditation, spirituality can have a calming effect.
Respect other people’s decisions.
Everyone’s comfort level with various activities is a little different. Don’t spend time spinning your wheels over someone’s decision to hold a small outdoor barbecue if that’s an activity you’re not ready for.
Try to stay positive — for you and your child.
When you are feeling anxious, your child often feels it, too. While it may be challenging, staying calm and talking to your child about their fears and answering their questions about COVID-19 might help you both feel better.
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious and the above tips aren’t helping, please don’t hesitate to contact a MetroHealth behavioral health specialist at 216-778-4428. If you’re not ready for an in-person appointment, we offer telehealth services.
Virtual Health Talk
Now more than ever, your well-being is important. Watch a recording of one of our Zoom webinars, where panels cover a variety of topics to help you care for your overall health.
For more information, visit metrohealth.org/virtual-health-talks.
Sheerli Ratner, PhD