Managing Stress and Anxiety in the Face of COVID-19: Anxiety and Mental Health Tips

Robert Brady, PhD

During these uncertain times, anxiety and depression can be heightened, so it's important to take care of your mental health. D-HH's Chief Human Resources Officer, Aimee Giglio, and Director of D-H's Anxiety Disorders Service, Robert Brady, PhD, discuss how to cope with anxiety and mental health concerns. Brady offers these five tips to manage anxiety:

  1. Accept the uncertainty. It's an uncertain time, however, uncertainty is not dangerous. Think about how many things you accept when it comes to uncertainty during the day. Accepting and understanding that not everything needs to be 100 percent under your control in your life can be a true source of inner peace.
  2. Control the amount of information flow. Non-stop access and updates from news channels can be overwhelming. Consider watching in the morning and at the end of the day, and then looking back, ask yourself what came up in those news headlines that really changed your action or your behavior? Now, ask yourself how much of that was truly necessary?
  3. Establish a worry period. Put some boundaries around what you worry about, then try to control those worries by jotting them down and finding time to reflect about those concerns. Try to designate 20 minutes during the day to do as much worrying as you want. If, at the end of that 20 minutes, you find that you're running out of things to worry about, that's okay, your worrying is done for that period of time. Tomorrow, attempt to scale it back a few minutes.
  4. Don’t fall into the nap trap. Maintaining good sleep behavior is important. People may fall into the ‘nap trap’ now that they are working from home. Try to resist the urge to nap so you are able to maintain your sleep pattern in the evening.
  5. Reflect on what matters most to you. The change in daily routines and limited socialization puts us at risk of worsening moods or even depression. Take time to reflect on your normal socialization behaviors and values. Consider what’s important to you about being a good friend and family member. While thinking about these vital aspects of your life, seek ways to adapt your behavior to what is most important to you during these times of restricted social interactions.

 


Below Jay Buckey, MD, section chief for Hyperbaric Medicine at D-H and professor of medicine at Geisel, talks about how he dealt with isolation as an astronaut.

Former Astronaut Jay Buckey Talks About Dealing with Isolation

Jay BuckeyTwenty-two years ago, Astronaut Jay Buckey rode the space shuttle Columbia into low Earth orbit, where he stayed for 16 days studying the impact of microgravity on the human nervous system. Now in his role as a Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Space Medicine Innovations Lab at Geisel, Buckey studies strategies to help enable people to work effectively in small spaces for extended periods. He and his colleagues developed a self-help research program that, although not designed specifically for the social distancing and quarantine measures associated with COVID-19, Buckey believes has relevance in the context of the pandemic. Read more about Buckey’s travels into space and how it has informed the research so relevant to today in this Dartmouth News article, Former Astronaut Jay Buckey Talks About Dealing With Isolation by David Hirsch.


Heads Up: Coping through COVID-19

Heads Up: Coping through COVID-19. A six-part webinar series on mental health.

This virtual webinar series covers topics relevant to parents who may be working from home while homeschooling children, high school and college students who are learning online and isolated from friends, adults experiencing anxiety or who struggle with mental illness, health care workers and first responders, and seniors and those who care for them.

The complete "Heads Up: Coping Through COVID-19" lineup includes:

  1. Wednesday, April 22, 12 Noon EST: Focus on Parents of Infants Through Sixth Graders - featuring Erin Barnett, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, and Caroline Christie, MSW, Clinical Social Worker, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Intensive Care Nursery (ICN), who will address school, family, and the additional challenges faced by new parents during this time;
  2. Wednesday, April 29, 12 Noon EST: Focus on Parents of Seventh Graders Through College-Age – featuring pediatrician Kimberly Gifford, MD, and Susan Pullen, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, who will address how to talk about COVID-19 and social distancing, school, and mental wellbeing with older children;
  3. Wednesday, May 6, 12 Noon EST: Focus on High School Students - featuring John Broderick, Senior Director of Public Affairs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice, and a panel of high school students, who will address the importance of social distancing, mental health, and staying connected to friends, classmates and teammates;
  4. Wednesday, May 13, 12 Noon EST: Focus on Health Care Workers and First Responders - featuring Stephen Cole, PhD, Manager, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Employee Assistance Program, who will address managing stress, protecting yourself and loved ones, and mental wellbeing;
  5. Wednesday, May 20, 12 Noon EST: Focus on Adults, Navigating Stress and Mental Wellbeing – featuring Robert Brady, PhD, Director of Anxiety Disorders Service, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, William Torrey, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, and Ken Norton, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Hampshire (NAMI NH), who will address managing mental health, staying informed, and staying connected and productive;
  6. Wednesday, May 27, 12 Noon EST: Focus on Seniors – panelists to be announced, who will address managing anxiety surrounding the pandemic and staying connected to loved ones.

For more information about the "Heads Up: Coping Through COVID-19" mental health webinar series, please visit https://go.d-h.org/headsup.