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Coping with stress and anxiety during COVID-19

Posted at 12:57 PM, Jun 01, 2020

FOX 13 News has a new partnership with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah called "Healthier Together. " The goal of this initiative is to provide important information and insight about various health topics to help you to live well and stay healthy.

This week, we're taking a closer look at how you can cope with the increased stress and anxiety we've all faced recently.

Over the past several months, we've had to drastically change how we live, and that can take a serious toll when it comes to mental health. "We've had to change the way we work. We've had to adapt with how we socialize. We've been living with a lot of uncertainty," said Dr. Jim Polo, Behavioral Health Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield.

These factors, combined with the fear of COVID-19, have caused a level of stress and anxiety many of us are not sure how to cope with. One thing that can help, said Polo, is understanding the difference between stress and anxiety so you can properly address each issue.

"Stress is really a response, usually to an external threat in a situation," said Dr. Polo. A threat of contracting Coronavirus is one example, but threats can also be as simple as an argument or something as simple as missing a deadline. "Our response to that stress is what then helps us deal with the threat. When the threat is resolved, usually the stress goes away with it," Polo said.

According to Polo, anxiety, on the other hand, is more of a feeling. "Typically, that feeling is one of dread and apprehension in situations that really aren't threatening...and furthermore, even when the concern is resolved, that feeling tends to persist."

Coping strategies include relaxation training, meditation, or seeking out social support. Health professionals also suggest focusing on the things you can control, versus those that you cannot. "So for example, you can't control whether you're going to get infected. But you can control wearing a mask. You can control washing your hands."

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