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Some find it difficult watching the COVID-19 virus spread across the world. Many are feeling vulnerable and stressed, wondering how COVID-19 will impact Alaska. With headlines focused on grocery store shelves running low on supplies, the continued spread of the virus, and the increased need for safety precautions like hand washing and disinfecting surfaces we touch, it can be hard to avoid feelings of fear. The good news is, there are many things that can be done to keep a calm mind during times of distress. Recognizing and managing anxiety is doable and there are many things anyone can try. First, it is important to understand if you are feeling anxious, worried, helpless, or edgy, you are not alone. These are common stress reactions.

What steps can be taken to reduce stress about COVID-19? It is healthy to take breaks from the news and social media about the pandemic. Instead, work on an art project, read a book, take a walk, or watch your favorite movie. Stay grounded. Take time to de-stress by doing a breathing exercise. An easy one to try: breath in for a count of four, pause and hold the breath for a second, and then breathe slowly out of your mouth for a count of seven. Set a timer for three minutes and maintain this breathing pattern the entire time.

Stay centered. Sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet flat on the floor. Focus on how your body feels as it rests in the chair, starting at the neck and shoulders and then shifting awareness down the body, ending with how the feet feel resting against the floor. There are various apps that can help with stress management. A couple options to consider include Calm or Headspace. Another helpful activity during these difficult times is to learn about mindfulness. There are many books and online resources that provide education on mindfulness, one good online resource is mindful.org.

Finally, make sure to support the health and wellness of everyone by cooking a healthy meal, eating together, and talking with family.