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Coping with Anxiety during Stressful Times


Right now is a stressful time and, it’s difficult to escape feeling stressed or anxious as we all navigate through the reality of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, try the following tips to help you cope with anxiety and stress.

  1. Take time out: take time out from the media. Limit your time consuming news stories and checking social media. Take time to read, meditate, practice yoga, listen to music, or use aroma therapy. Stepping back and taking time for yourself will help with managing anxiety. Just breathe.

2. Use grounding tools to assist with staying in the moment, when you’re having difficulty with racing thoughts and worries. Before starting this exercise, pay attention to your breathing. Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, follow these steps: a. Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.

b. Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your hair, a pillow, or even the ground under your feet.

c. Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This can be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts, but try to focus on things you can hear outside of your body.

d. Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Maybe you are in your home or office and smell pencil, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell a pillow. If you need to take a brief walk to find a scent you could smell soap in your bathroom, or nature outside.

e. Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like—gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch?

3. Limit alcohol and caffeine: alcohol and caffeine can actually increase feelings of anxiety and be a contributing factor to a panic attack.

4. Get enough sleep and eat healthy: when your body is stressed, it needs additional rest. Make sure you are resting. Cook healthy meals to boost your immune system. Don’t forget to take your vitamins! 

5. Think Positive: at times it may seem impossible to think positively, especially when you feel anxious and overwhelmed by worry. But I promise it is possible! Try to focus on the positive things around you. Practice positive affirmations, positive self- talk and gratitude. Keep focusing on what is important to you. Remember, this too shall pass.

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious and worried during times like these. Try following these steps to help reduce your anxiety and be sure to make your mental health a priority.

If you are experiencing significant thoughts of depression, please talk to a professional.


Sandra Taveras LCSW-R is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Behavioral Health. She has clinical interests in mood disorders, psychotic disorders, behavioral disorders, and co-occurring disorders in adults, adolescents, and children, and family therapy. Sandra is seeing patients in Middletown.

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