Pandemics can be stressful! A statement that is obvious and probably an understatement.

However, it might be one that needs saying, now that we are into the eighth month of COVID-19. Our bodies and minds have been numbed by eight months of worry, strong emotions, overwhelming change, isolation, anxiety and for some of us the disease. We may not even recognize signs of continued stress on our bodies and minds simply because this way of life is a new routine for each of us.

Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen takes its toll on adults and children. Public health actions like social distancing can make people feel isolated and lonely. However these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

It is time to take action, if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Worry about your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
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Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger. Here are some ideas to help you cope physically and mentally:

  • Learn what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19.
  • Seek a mental health professional if you are experiencing an emotional crisis.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy every day.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Safely connect with your community and your faith-based organizations.
  • Take care of your body: Take deep breaths and stretch, try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.

The upcoming fall and winter holidays add yet another layer of stress to our lives. To reduce stress, start to plan now. Visit www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/holidays.html#thanksgiving to get ideas for celebrating safely with family and friends.

Marcia Schroeder is a registered nurse with Horizon Public Health, which serves five counties, including Douglas County. Contact her at marcias@horizonph.org.