Managing Stress with the Uncertainty of COVID-19
How do I manage the stress and anxiety I'm feeling about this whole situation?Like any transition, adjusting to these widespread changes can impact your mental health, but there are things you can do to help you cope effectively until things return to normal:
Recognize any stress reaction you may experience related to an infectious disease outbreak, including...
- Worrying about your health status or the status of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating
- Problems concentrating or focusing
- Increased efforts to avoid, sometimes in unhealthy ways
You can cope more effectively with any stress you might experience by...
- Avoiding excessive media exposure around COVID-19. Our 24-hour news cycle is really great at giving us a lot to worry about. While staying informed is important, set strong limits around the time that you spend watching news about COVID-19.
- Sticking to a routine. With classes, social events, and large gatherings all canceled, you might find yourself with more time than you expected to have. It can be easy to settle into an inconsistent schedule of napping, studying a little, watching Netflix, napping, etc. This schedule can ultimately be disorienting, and it can have negative impacts on your mental health. Consider setting a fairly structured schedule, waking up and going to bed at the same time every day and setting some routine events (like regular, consistent study time.) This can help maintain a sense of some normalcy.
- Taking care of yourself physically. Get enough sleep, eat regularly, and consider exercising. Feeling good physically will help you feel better mentally, so stay active.
- Connecting with others. Social isolation is never good for mental health. It may be that you have to connect online with others, or gather in small groups. Whatever it looks like, make sure that you’re connecting with others on a daily basis.
- Maintaining perspective. While the current procedures for managing infection risk are disruptive, remember that they are temporary. Count on a return to normalcy in the future, and remember that the way things are is very temporary.
If you notice you’re feeling high levels of anxiety that do not go away, or if you are feeling in a low mood on a consistent basis, consider reaching out to CAPS. We want to help. We are currently offering a full range of services virtually for students in the state of Utah, and we also offer some therapy services to students residing in certain states which allow us to practice virtually over state lines. Click here to see if you reside in a state in which we can provide virtual services. If you do not reside in one of these states, or if you feel you do not need direct therapy services, you can still check out the many mental health resources that are accessible wherever you are.
One of the best options we have is Sanvello, one of the world’s most widely used mental health apps. Sanvello offers daily mood tracking, teaches coping skills, and draws from proven therapies that have been developed by experts in the mental health field. Sanvello can help with depression, anxiety, and even offers a peer support feature. Best of all, the Premium version of Sanvello is free for all BYU students, faculty, and staff. Download Sanvello on the App Store or the Play Store and create an account using your BYU email address (you can create any password you like.) This should unlock the Premium version, and you’ll be good to go!
We also offer SilverCloud, an online system designed to help you reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, and negative body image. Silvercloud uses articles, video clips, interactive activities, and short quizzes to help you cope with and even overcome problems with mental health. Using Silvercloud involves completing weekly activities with the support of one of our trained clinicians who reviews your progress and provides feedback and encouragement. Silvercloud is entirely online, so you can use it no matter where you are. Finally, SilverCloud has a lot of research that shows that it works. You do have to be a full time student to use Silvercloud. To enroll or ask questions about SilverCloud, email your name, which program you are interested in (Anxiety, Body Image, Depression, or Stress), and whether or not you are a full time BYU student to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you experience high stress or anxiety, you might benefit from practicing some relaxation techniques. You can find these at the link below – practicing these will help! You can find ways to practice relaxation at the Relaxation Recordings, Importance of Breathing, Paced Breathing, and Handouts sections of this page. You can also schedule virtual biofeedback appointments through this page as well.
You can also read about how to deal effectively with a number of topics that college students encounter at this link:
Maybe you’re more of an audiovisual learner. If so, check out our selection of TED talks and podcasts about mental health:
Finally, remember that the changes we’re seeing – on campus and in the community – are temporary. Using the resources above can help you make it through a difficult time more easily!