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Handy tips to deal with corona stress and anxiety

The corona emergency means a lot more people are facing stress and anxiety.  VRT News has spoken with psychologist Marieke Impens and trauma therapist Anja Moortgat, who have come up with several handy tips to deal the corona stress and anxiety.

Marieke Impens says a first important factor in increasing stress and anxiety is the unpredictability of the corona virus. Nobody knows how long the crisis will last and whether they will catch the virus.  Marieke urges us to look for structure and predictability in everything we do.

“You need to come up with new rules, a new agenda and a sound planning.  Plan your meals and watch what you eat.  Chores that have been waiting for attention for a while or a walk all deserve a place in your diary.  This creates a new form of regularity and predictability.  That automatically gives you a positive feeling of control, even when the situation is largely outside your control.”

Anja Moortgat concedes anxiety and panic are sometimes inevitable.  Panic and this can impact on others. The opposite is also true: “We mirror the mood of other people.  Project calm vigilance and that will calm others.  The trick is to look at your problems and reflect calm to the outside word.”

Marieke notes that for many people their balance is up in the air: “Lots of fun events disappear.  Negative experiences pile up. You have to accept there is going to be more stress and tension because we can’t always get rid of these.”

Show understanding to others!

“Everybody has their own way of dealing with the crisis.  Most people will be more irritable.  It’s a normal reaction and you can’t do much about it.  Be nice to yourself and others.  That will lower tension.  Don’t get angry with yourself because you feel low!”

“Some people choose to avoid the news.  That will lower the tension in the short-term, but that can come back to haunt you.”

“Some people keep on looking and disseminating information.  In order to relax sufficient rest and staying away from news are sometimes necessary.  A good balance between the two is needed.”

“Corona measures create frustration in addition to the stress and anxiety we already experience.  People start to avoid everything: friends and family, going out.  We can take extreme measures to attempt to prevent catching the virus, but that will get you into trouble in the long term.  Protect yourself, but keep on living!”

Anja warns it’s important not to abandon all activity during the quarantine period.  “Movement is crucial.  A calm walk helps you to regulate stress hormones. Trauma releasing exercise is necessary!”