We are living in anxious times, and COVID-19 has created widespread emotional instability. With growing concerns around health, employment, housing, and mass closures, this pandemic has become stressful for all. As a medical physician, Dr. Jan McBarron assures you that you are not alone. As an award-winning Bariatric Medical Physician with over thirty years in private practice seeing patients, she knows how stressful health concerns can be on families, friends, and loved ones. As a global community experiencing this outbreak together, Jan McBarron has some key tips on remaining calm and managing the stress.

Stress will affect everyone differently. Depending on your demographic, age, and finances, COVID-19 may be a greater cause for concern for some over others. Whether you have fears and worries for your own health or the health of your loved ones, stress can cause a whole host of problems, including: changes in sleep and eating habits, difficulty making decisions or concentrating, worsening depression or anxiety, and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other risk taking behavior. The following suggestions can help reduce stress.

Dr. Jan McBarron

Understanding COVID-19

One of the first things that Jan McBarron suggests is to become as knowledgeable as possible about COVID-19, the associative risks, symptoms, and preventative measures. Jan McBarron highly recommends adhering to local public health guidelines when it comes to regulating your behaviour; these include avoiding crowds of more than 10 people, practicing social distancing, washing your hands correctly, frequently sanitizing surfaces, and quarantining. A special mention about hand washing. This should be with warm soap and water for 20 seconds. Its longer than people think; its long enough to sing Happy Birthday not once, but twice. Also remember to clean behind your nails.

Minimize the Hours of News Coverage You Watch

Once you are informed, Jan McBarron explains that it might be helpful to regulate the amount of news you consume. Taking breaks from reading, watching, or listening to news, including on social media, may give you the space you need to relax. Given the constant updates, many of us are experiencing ‘news fatigue’, and it can exacerbate an already stressful situation. As the virus is evolving and fluid, you may want to schedule and limit a news update to once a day to ensure you don’t miss vital information for your safety and the safety of others.

Take Care of Your Personal Health

A big part of taking care of your mind also means taking care of your body. While you are self-isolating, you still want to make your physical health a number one priority. Jan McBarron recommends eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and consider taking deep breaths, stretching, or meditating. Cortisol is a major stress hormone and as the level rises people often overeat and make poor decisions. Both physical movement and mental stillness have been shown to mitigate the symptoms of stress by reducing cortisol. 

Lastly, Jan McBarron encourages you to engage in activities that help you unwind. Whether it is reading, cooking, drawing, knitting or speaking with a friend on the phone, there has never been a better time to reconnect with the things you love. Stress is our reaction to the environment caused mainly by a feeling of being out of control. The more we can control, the less stress we feel.