Acton recommends way to cope with pandemic anxiety


Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH offered the following recommendations for coping with anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak:

• Remember that distress, anxiety, fear, and strong emotions are normal in times of distress or crisis. Remind yourself and others that these feelings will fade.

• Get information from a trusted source, such as coronavirus.ohio.gov or by calling the Ohio COVID-19 call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

– Learn and follow tips for preparing for and responding to COVID-19.

– Learn and follow tips on how to prevent COVID-19.

• Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. It is important to get good information to help you prepare and respond, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family with information.

• Eat nutritious food, exercise, get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and drugs, and make time to relax and unwind.

• Incorporate stretching or meditation into your routine. Take deep breaths when feeling overwhelmed.

• Stay connected with friends and family. Discuss your concerns and be supportive of theirs.

• Keep participating in hobbies/activities that do not expose you to close contact with others in confined spaces.

• If you have a mental health condition, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms. Call your healthcare provider with any concerns.

• Recognize signs of distress:

– Feeling hopeless or helpless.

– Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.

– Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.

– Difficulty concentrating.

– Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.

– Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.

– Worsening of chronic health problems.

– Anger or short-temper.

– Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

• Call your healthcare provider if your feelings overwhelm you for several days in a row.

• Reach out for help:

– Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746.

– Reach the Ohio Crisis Text Line* by texting keyword 4HOPE to 741 741.

– Reach the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Help Line* at 1.877.275.6364

– Find a provider at https://findtreatment.gov.

Additional resources on mental health and COVID-19 can be found at mha.ohio.gov/coronavirus.

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