We totally get it; the coronavirus is scary. Most of us aren’t scientists and can’t create a vaccine, but we can find other ways to help ourselves, like finding methods to cope with the anxiety it brings us.

Fear itself is a very motivating emotion. It helps us prepare for danger, and it sparks our survival instinct; however, like everything else, too much of it can cause more harm than good. I know we all took biology in school, but humor me as we jump into a quick rundown on how stress works in the body.

Your body is a balanced mix between calm, your resting state, and stress, its opposite. When your brain perceives a threat, it sounds an alarm via your nervous system. Your nervous system is split into two opposing systems: sympathetic, tells your body when it’s on high alert, and parasympathetic, tells your body when you can relax. When you are calm, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work in harmony—kind of like yin and yang.

When you’re stressed, the sympathetic nerves take over. This causes fight or flight mode. The issue is, you can’t resolve the problem since the coronavirus is not something you can outrun or fix.

Our bodies are not designed for chronic stress, so since you can’t resolve the problem ailing you, that energy remains in the body—which is then translated into agitation (life tip: use that excuse in your next argument!)

This sounds like a lot, but worry not! We are here to offer suggestions on how you can restore your body’s balance!

1. Breathe
I know this may not seem helpful, but a significant way to ease the fight or flight mode you are feeling is to convince your brain you are safe. If you spend a few minutes every day taking long and steady inhales and exhales, your parasympathetic nerves will become more active – restoring much of that balance we talked about.

2. Turn off the News
Long story short, the news is driving you crazy! I understand you want to be updated, so check the news once per day and turn it off. Watching it for longer does not serve you.

3. Limit Alcohol.
Alcohol may seem like a good way to help you relax; however, heavy drinking in the long term can make it harder for you to feel calm. If you are someone who enjoys having wine at night, that’s okay, just try not to drink the whole bottle!

4. Restore Agency
Give yourself a purpose! Currently, the world is unpredictable. So, do what you can to make your life predictable. For example, keep a schedule, establish routines, or start a hobby. I have heard paint by numbers is very fun!

5. Help others
When we help others, our cortisol levels, one of the main stress hormones, plummets. Scientists have named this “the helper’s high.” So, find ways to help out in your community! You can volunteer, donate, etc. Shifting the focus away from yourself has immense benefits for restoring your calm and stress balance.

Stress is difficult to deal with, but with the right coping methods, we can restore the balance and find calm. Try some of the things on this list and see if any of them work for you!

Header picture: (Credit: woocat/Shutterstock)

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