HOW TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS-RELATED ANXIETY & INSOMNIA
by James George, Pharm.D., Medical Affairs
The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted society on a global scale and upended the lives of countless people. On a daily basis, we see the effects of the novel coronavirus all around us: increased stress, difficulty getting our groceries, lost jobs, and feelings of isolation, just to name a few. Still, it can be difficult to understand how coronavirus may be affecting our health – even if we never contract the virus.
Indeed, online magazine Slate notes that researchers are already delving into the psychological impact of coronavirus. In fact, the effects of coronavirus on our mental health appear to be much like what we see after a natural disaster, which includes an increase in insomnia due to emotional stress. As such, here are some general tips to help get the sleep you need and improve your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak:
Establish a Schedule
With many people furloughed or working from home, it may be difficult to have a routine now that our daily responsibilities are so different. Still, establishing a consistent wakeup time and bedtime can go a long way in re-establishing that sense of normalcy and maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
Maintain Your Sleep Environment
Keep your sleep place dark and cool; darkness aids the sleep cycle and a cool temperature will keep you comfortable throughout the night.
Save the Bed for Sleep Only
While self-quarantined at home it may be tempting to work from your bed or spend most of the day in the bedroom. However, this can throw off your sleep cycle as you begin to associate the bedroom with work or other non-sleep activities. It may be difficult to establish an office away from family and other distractions but do your best to save the bedroom for sleep during these times.
Connect with Friends and Family with Technology
Video messaging offered through platforms such as Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Zoom, and others allow us to connect with our loved ones without risking one another’s health. A conversation with a good friend can allow us to destress and head to bed with a better mood. You may even want to establish a no “corona talk” rule beforehand to keep things light and fun. Be creative! You can try watching a movie together, playing classic games like charades, or anything in between.
Set Aside “Worry Times”
While technology can help us connect, is also gives us access to a 24-hour news cycle, which can be emotionally draining during these times. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed by all the coronavirus related news, set aside specific periods of time where you can worry about it and talk about it with others. Outside these times, do your best to focus your mind on other subjects.
Get Some Exercise
Even at home there are plenty of ways to get exercise, which can help you get a better night’s sleep. You can use fitness apps on your phone like the Nike Training Club app, which offers a variety of workouts without equipment, or even follow along to yoga programs on YouTube.
Remember, if you’re experiencing serious sleep issues or other psychological problems during this period, you can always consult your healthcare provider. Many offices are offering convenient remote health visits – all you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer. These technologies let you get the help you need while allowing you to stay safe at home.
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SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR IF INSOMNIA MAY INTERFERE WITH YOUR LIFE.