How to Calm Down and Stave Off Panic

There are a lot of worries going around at the moment. People are scared of being sick, scared of being cut off, scared of running out of supplies and scared for the well-being of others. It’s no surprise with more news coming out about COVID-19 from around the world. However, stress is bad for your health and rough on your heart. Today, we are taking a look at some methods to ease stress and anxiety to help you live a healthier life.

Sometimes, we don’t recognize anxiety in ourselves. If your emotions are closer to the surface and you get riled up easily, either with stress, panic or anger, it could be a sign of anxiousness. That’s also true of having problems sleeping, or concentrating. If you aren’t usually a hypochondriac but you start being scared of any sniff, you may be experiencing anxiety. It’s essential to recognize that and tell yourself that it’s stress, acknowledge what you are feeling and move on normally. Cook a meal, take a shower or do something else you find relaxing that can take your mind off your worries.

The first thing to do is take a step back from the hysteria we’re seeing on the news in shocking headlines. Doctors are trained to handle this. “For everything that we don’t know about COVID-19, there’s a lot that we do know,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Susan Rehm. “Coronaviruses are a special class of cold viruses – and the good news here is that we know how to manage people with respiratory viruses.”

One of the things doctors know is that the transmission of COVID-19 is the same as the flu — and you can protect yourself the same ways: cover your mouth and nose when you cough, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and avoid people and crowds. If you feel unwell, call your doctor. Don’t go to the office. They will help you figure out how best to proceed without you going to an office where you could be at higher risk.

Only read trustworthy news sources. The phrase “fake news” gets thrown around a lot. But, for real and accurate news, check in on what the CDC and World Health Organization are saying, not a link on Twitter. Information getting regurgitated can become inaccurate. Go directly to the sources to find out what information is up-to-date and accurate.

Stress can raise your heart rate for extended periods. Physical exercise can help lower stress and lower your resting heart rate. Deep breathing and meditation can also help reduce stress. “Deep breathing helps stimulate the vagus nerve, which causes activity in the nervous system and helps reduce the chemicals that cause the ‘fight or flight’ response,” said Dr. Brian Isaacson, Program Director of Department of Psychiatry at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. “This can lead to a reduction of heart rate and blood pressure, and it may also increase some neurotransmitters that promote a reduced sense of anxiety.”

If you do have a panic attack, acknowledge that you are having a panic attack and take deep breaths. After it has passed, call your doctor. A panic attack can feel like a heart attack; let them know what you just experienced. Stepping away from social media or any other things that may be causing you unneeded anxiety is a great precaution against future panic attacks. Do something that makes you happy: read a book or watch a movie you love. Watch Mary Poppins!

If, after following these steps, you are still experiencing high levels of anxiety, contact your doctor. They may have methods tailored for your health needs, or they may give you some short-term medications to deal with stress. And remind yourself of the universally true words: this too shall pass.
March 23, 2020

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