7 tips for managing coronavirus anxiety and stress

by Kaiser Permanente |
Person smiling while cuddling dog

Even as the situation around the coronavirus continues to improve, we’re still learning new things about it and are living life differently than before. Stress levels were high before COVID-19 appeared, but they skyrocketed during the pandemic. And many of us still need support. Practicing self-care continues to be important — and so does focusing on things you can control while letting go of things you can’t. Here are some simple things you can do to take care of yourself.

Eat as healthfully as you can

Eating a variety of healthy foods is always important, but it’s easy to fall back on less healthy options when you’re feeling anxious. You don’t need to stress out about exactly what to eat — just think about simple ways to eat as healthfully as you can. Try to include a fruit or vegetable in every meal. Drink plenty of water. Snack mindfully by portioning out individual servings. It’s not about perfection, it’s about doing what you can to nourish your body the right way.

Get creative with exercise

When you’re worried, get out of your head and into your body. Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever, so have fun changing up your routine. Find a new yoga or cardio video online that you can try at home.

Stay socially connected

Talk with people about how you feel. This can help everyone feel more connected and less alone. Ups and downs are inevitable, so check in with loved ones often. Every opportunity to reach out is an opportunity to help lift someone up — including yourself.

Practice kindness

Simple gestures mean a lot. Check in with your neighbors to make sure they have what they need and to let them know you care. And be generous by only buying as much as you need when you shop for groceries and other supplies. Small acts of kindness add up, and the benefits go both ways. There’s a proven link between kindness and feelings of happiness — helping others just feels good. *

Rest and relax

It’s important to replenish your energy and recharge your brain. Take breaks to rest throughout the day. Be sure to get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine — and stick to a consistent schedule. We have digital tools that can help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Make time for mindfulness

Ease anxiety about what the future holds by intentionally focusing on the present moment. That’s exactly what mindfulness is. Try this simple mindfulness exercise next time you feel stressed or anxious:

  • Get comfortable. Relax your jaw and drop your shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply and count your breaths. Inhale on 1, exhale on 2, inhale on 3. When you get to 10, start over.
  • When your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breathing.

Get things done

Explore a new hobby you’ve been meaning to try, or tackle a project you never seem to have time for. Maybe you want to try drawing, painting, or journaling — or finally organizing all your family photos in a scrapbook. Finishing simple tasks like cleaning out drawers and closets can be rewarding, while moving your attention away from anxious thoughts.

Take breaks from the news

Of course it’s important to stay up to date. But it can also be overwhelming and make stress and anxiety worse. Set aside time to unplug — especially before you go to sleep. And be sure to choose news from trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

When times are uncertain, stress, fear, and anxiety are normal. Making time to practice self-care can help you feel a lot better. If you need extra support for mental health and emotional wellness, we have resources that can help — including personalized programs, digital tools, and more.

*L Rowland et. al., "A Range of Kindness Activities Boost Happiness," The Journal of Social Psychology, May 15, 2018.