We’re on your side with ways to handle stress, anxiety with COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 7:03 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Is your mind racing, you’re forgetful, or feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone.

These are unprecedented times, so we're on your side with ways you can handle the stress and anxiety of the coronavirus outbreak.

We’re learning more and more about the COVID-19 every single hour of every single day.

It’s a lot to take in, and for many, your anxiety is through the roof.

And the idea of isolating yourself doesn’t help.

But we spoke with one doctor who has quick and easy ways to tackle those thoughts.

“This isn’t easy for anybody. Even for me it’s not easy,” said Dr. Diana Paulk with Birmingham Anxiety and Trauma Therapy.

Dr. Paulk says if you’re feeling a bit foggy or spacey right now, that’s normal. It’s your brain preparing you for danger.

“The amygdala is sucking all the energy and literally quieting those areas down actually kind of making them dull so it’s natural for us to feel anxious and not be able to think,” she said.

So, what do you do?

Dr. Paulk says first, ask yourself, “What does my body need?”

If your hands are shaking, try to keep them busy; play the piano, cook a meal, clean.

It's also important to do breathing exercises.

“It’s called Box Breathing,” said Dr. Paulk. “Very briefly you inhale very deeply to the count of four, then you hold that air to the count of four, then you release all that air to the count of four, you hold that to the count of four.”

She says that helps your brain take in more oxygen, which helps you think clearer.

But what if your thoughts are running wild?

Dr. Paulk tells you to acknowledge those thoughts, those “what ifs", and do something about it.

"I think about my worst case scenario and then I ask myself, what would I do about it. And then after I figure out what I would do, I find it to be very calming," she said.

Lastly, keep some sort of normalcy with your routine. Yes, your life may look different right now, but try to maintain some of your lifestyle before coronavirus.

“This may sound silly, but this is not the time to go on a major diet or quit smoking cigarettes. It adds a stressor to where you already are. So try to maintain your routine, and develop new aspects of that routine,” Dr. Paulk said.

And she said the most important thing to remember is you’re not alone.

There is help out there.

And with the digital world we live in, it’s important you can remain social over the phone.

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