5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Around the COVID-19 Outbreak

Everyone around the world is hyper-aware, and in many cases in a panic about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Worrying about catching this contagious disease while caring for your family can be a stressful time. Our team of Head Coaches and Dr. Ferro share strategies to keep you and your family feeling safe – physically and mentally during this uncertain time.

1. Take a Media Break

Right now the news is bursting with stories of supplies running out, people trapped on cruise ships, and new cases popping up around the world. “With the overload of media coverage and information, it’s important to make sure you are only getting updates from reputable sources and don’t immerse yourself in the sensationalized news about the coronavirus 24/7,” said Head Coach Heidi. Good sources include:

Each will provide you with timely updates while filtering out the information that’s been dramatized for the attention-grabbing headlines in the news.

2. Name and Validate Emotions

It is normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus. “Eating is an extremely emotional experience and can bring out both positive and negative emotions. It’s important to recognize how foods make us feel physically and mentally so that we can make the best choices for ourselves. Eat slowly, mindfully, and with purpose. Your feelings towards food are valid and remember that you are in control!” urges Head Coach Andrea. Follow these steps to boost your mental health during this stressful time.

“Stress is a huge factor right now and emotions are high.  For all of us, snacking is sometimes a way to relieve these feelings.   With some awareness and redirection, this can be avoided. Put your feelings down on paper with some journaling, deep clean your house, or use your energy with a brisk walk or light workout.  Those endorphins are powerful things!” – Head Coach Carly 

3. Stay Busy at Home

With more school and daycare closures, as well as workplaces shutting down or moving to a “work from home” schedule, many more families will need to prepare for staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus. Spending more time at home can easily lead to cabin fever, mindless eating, and feeling isolated. To combat this, Head coach Heidi recommends to, “Focus on an activity that you enjoy at home such as reading and check out a new book from your local library (most have online digital books for free).”

Use the extra time at home to catch up on your household to-do list: sift through your belongings for a spring clean-out, donate clothes that you no longer use, organize the “junk” drawer, do your annual taxes, and something most everyone never has time for – cleaning out the fridge! If you’re stuck at home, make it bright and sparkling again! Having more time at home is also a great opportunity to do more cooking and freeze meals to have on hand later. Try a new Betr recipe and get all of the junk food out of the house to avoid the temptations to eat out of boredom!  To physically prepare your household, follow this comprehensive checklist created by the CDC. 

4. Keep Calm and Feed Your Microbiome

Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides in your gut? Trillions of organisms that make up your microbiome are directly responsible for your body’s ability to fight infections and viruses. A weak, unbalanced collection of microbiota leaves your body more vulnerable to both minor illnesses, and more serious health conditions. Head coach Anita explains, “I always feed my microbiome first. What I mean by that is I prioritize taking my probiotics, digestive enzymes and vitamins to feed my good bacteria in the gut first. Focusing on your gut health is one of the greatest gifts you can give your body to boost your immune system. If you have underlying conditions like diabetes or autoimmune challenges, restoring your gut can protect you even further by reversing the inflammation at the root of these illnesses.” 

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” Dr. Ferro said. “Focus on sleep, nourishment, good hygiene, regular movement, fresh air, connecting with people.” – It’s a good reminder this is what we’ve all encouraged to do normally to promote health. “Managing our anxiety,” said Dr. Ferro, “can also be done through mindful activities such as meditating and breathing exercises.” 

5. Smart Shopping

Many members have been asking what the best non-perishable items are to stock up on that are Level 1 and Level 2 compliant. Unless you’re in an area where all grocery stores have closed, we encourage continuing to prioritize fresh produce if it’s available to you. Only if there are no fresh options available to you, then reach for frozen fruits, veggies, and protein as the best option. Canned vegetables tend to have more sodium, so if you’re in a pinch and only have access to canned produce try to find options with no sodium added and remember to wash it well to help rinse off excess sodium!

There are plenty of fruits and vegetables left when grocery stores sell out of other items. People always stock up on junk food. Try to use Walmart online shopping to pick up produce or get your groceries delivered to avoid higher-populated areas,” said Dr. Ferro.  

Biggest Takeaways

We need to prioritize taking care of ourselves. “The most important things to focus on is eating nutritious whole foods, hydrating frequently, and getting plenty of sleep,” said Head Coach Carly, “remember that all of this is temporary and there will be an end in sight.  In the meantime let’s do our part in being kind to each other and do what we can to keep ourselves and others around us safe.” 



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