Managing Anxiety While Social Distancing

There is a lot of uncertainty and fear due to the COVID-19 global outbreak and the majority of us have been negatively affected in some way, shape or form, whether it is the loss of our jobs, transitioning to working from home, or coping with increased stress as our children’s schedules are disrupted. Millions of people are socially distancing to control the spread. The daily news coverage, with occasionally confusing and conflicting reports about the pandemic, has caused the incidence and severity of some people’s anxiety to skyrocket. In times like these, even if we had previously been able to manage our stress and anxiety, we may find it more difficult to manage our mental health and anxiety levels.

Woman sitting on a dock at the lake.

Here are a few ways to cope during this trying time:

  1. Take Care of Your Body and Spirit
    • Remember to drink water. Hydrating can improve your energy levels and brain function.
      Take at least ten minutes to exercise every day. Even a 10-minute walk can boost your mood, help you think more clearly and sleep better at night.
    • Get enough sleep. This can help reduce stress and improve productivity. Maintaining a sleep schedule can also help us cope with the schedule disruption that working from home can create.
    • Take note of your diet. It is common for us to either skip meals or snack more than usual during times of stress. Try adding something healthy you enjoy to your diet, and make sure you are taking note of how certain foods help you feel. It’s helpful to check-in with yourself after a snack or meal to note how it made your body and mind feel. Try to eat more foods that leave you feeling healthy and content.
  2. Stay Connected
    • Share any concerns you may have about the outbreak to a friend or family member. Maintain relationships through your social networks wither this is by scheduling regular phone calls, Facetiming family and friends, or communicating online with friends and family. Staying connected can help you to stave off feelings of depression, anxiety and anger.
  3. Take Mental Breaks
    • Take time to unwind. If the weather permits, reap the benefits of sunlight! Sunlight can boost your mood, increase your Vitamin D levels (which helps with your mood, immune function, and energy), and help you feel calm and focused.
    • Take some deep breaths, stretch or meditate. There are several smart phone apps which can be helpful if you prefer guided relaxation. Check out the Pathway Psychiatry Facebook Page to learn more about some options.
  4. Stay Updated
    • Watch news updates from trusted sources so you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and family. Focusing on what you can control will help you feel less overwhelmed by things that you are unable to control.
  5. Minimize Unhelpful Media Consumption
    • Avoid spending too much time watching news that causes you to feel anxious or overwhelmed.
  6. Find a New Hobby or Rediscover an Old Hobby
    • Trying to do something new or challenging like finishing a book or trying a new recipe in the kitchen can help you reduce stress.
    • This may be the perfect time to pick up a hobby you previously enjoyed. Try making a list of fun things you enjoyed in the past, and think of how you could incorporate them throughout your week.
  7. Ask for Help
    • If you are feeling anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to a supportive person whether this is a clergy member, counselor, or doctor.
    • You can also contact The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or calling the national Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Asking for help reveals strength, not weakness.
  8. Remember you’re not alone
    • Know that feeling stressed, down, guilty or angry during this unusual time is not unusual. Focusing on what we can control is important, and it can be helpful to remember we are not totally helpless and can choose how we respond to times of stress, and measures we take to help manage this stress.
    • If you know someone who is struggling, reach out and let them know that you care and are available to talk if they need a listening ear.

Stay tuned for more related topics and strategies for managing stress and maintaining your mental health.


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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