5 Tips For Staying Informed About COVID-19, While Minimizing Stress and Anxiety

Whether you follow entertainment, sports, or politics, every headline right now is about one thing and one thing only: the coronavirus. COVID-19 has sickened thousands across the globe, and for those of us who are fortunate enough to be healthy, it has drastically changed the way we live.

It's hard to escape the harsh realities of this moment when we're constantly confronted with the latest information on Twitter, on our televisions, and in the news alerts that pop up on our phones. More often than not, this 24-hour news cycle has left me feeling anxious and helpless. It's a lot to handle, and it's completely understandable if you're feeling the same way.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help us regain some control. "Our bodies are currently in survival mode working with a threat we don't quite know yet," clinical psychologist Emma Svanberg told POPSUGAR. "But we can use techniques to make sure our stress doesn't overwhelm us."

Through trial and error, I've been working to find ways to feel just a little better. I want to stay informed about what's going on in the world, but I can't ignore the toll it's taking on my mental well-being. If you find yourself in the same position, here are some ideas to help you cope and find that elusive balance.

Limit Your News Intake
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Limit Your News Intake

As a news junkie, I'm constantly scrolling through Twitter, but seeing the latest closures and statistics about COVID-19 has been making me feel more worried than informed lately. That's why trauma therapist Shannon Thomas recommends checking the news once in the morning, afternoon, and evening. To help filter it out of your social feeds, mute certain words or accounts that fill your timeline with news about the outbreak. "The saturation is going to cause us to be extremely anxious," Thomas told POPSUGAR.

She also suggested signing up for email alerts from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention if you want to get the necessary information without having to go on social media.

Take It One Day at a Time
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Take It One Day at a Time

It's easy to catastrophize, especially when facing the very real threat of a global pandemic, but try not to think about what could happen weeks or months from now. "Often when we are anxious, we spiral into the future — and it's usually the worst case scenario we land on," Dr. Svanberg said. "But there are still things which are certain. There are people in your life you love. There are things that can make you smile. The sun will still rise and set."

When the news is too much, try this technique to feel more grounded. Using your senses, ask yourself: what can you see, smell, and feel?

Try a Guided Meditation
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Try a Guided Meditation

I'll be the first to admit that meditating was never my thing, but after downloading the Calm app, I've completely changed my mindset — and there are lots more apps you can download to start practicing mindfulness and help calm your mind.

When you're anxious, your body gets a surge of adrenaline that increases your heart rate and causes you to take shortened, shallow breaths. Dr. Svanberg explained that meditating while taking long, slow breaths does the opposite, signaling to your body that you're safe.

Get Some Fresh Air
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Get Some Fresh Air

Staying home is crucial to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but make sure to step away from your screens and the news from time to time. "It's really important to get out of the house to be outdoors and breathe some fresh air," Thomas said. Spend some time reading in your backyard, stand outside on your balcony, or go for a short walk while keeping a safe distance from those around you.

Remind Yourself That This Is Temporary
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Remind Yourself That This Is Temporary

We don't know a lot about what the future holds with COVID-19. But we do know that the measures that have been put in place are a temporary solution to help protect our communities over the long-term. "This is not our new norm. This is not going to last forever," Thomas said. "We're in the middle of it, and it's very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we already have other folks out in the world who are getting to the other side of this." (Now there's some good news.)

In the meantime, embrace what you can control in the situation, and know that you're not the only one who feels worried. "Often we can feel alone in our anxieties, but the past few weeks have demonstrated just how much a whole globe can come together in their feelings," Dr. Svanberg told POPSUGAR.