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Coping with stress and worries linked to the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 20:40:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— For an entire year, many San Diegans have faced overwhelming challenges ranging from isolation to virtual learning, unemployment, and loss of life.

“I think we’ve seen a clear impact on mental health,” said Dr. Jill Stoddard, a clinical psychologist, and author. “My clinic is completely full for the first time ever, and as we try to refer patients to other therapists, almost all those therapists are full too.”

Stoddard said she has especially seen an uptick in health-related worries, stress, and anxiety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s worry about, every little symptom ‘is this COVID’?” she said. “I work in an anxiety clinic, and we see primarily anxiety disorders, but we’re also seeing a real uptick in depression symptoms.”

While the good news is people are seeking help, Stoddard said two things that can trigger some of the worries are uncertainty and lack of control, two things that defined 2020 for many.

With more people getting vaccinated and restrictions easing up, she said there is a path to healing.

“If there’s one thing we need to work on doing is really starting to reengage in our lives as we would if we weren’t feeling worried, anxious, or scared,” she said.

Stoddard says essential steps to healing also including having self-compassion and finding a sense of community.

“Getting social support can be one of the greatest buffers to some of these difficult times and difficult feelings,” said Stoddard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a list of ways to cope with stress during this time, including:

  • Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from phone, TV, and computer screens for a while. While the CDC says it is good to be informed, consistently hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body- meditation, healthy eating, exercise
  • Make time to unwind.
  • Connect with others. Talk about concerns and feelings with those you trust.
  • Connect with your community-or faith-based organizations.

“Human beings are incredibly resilient; children are incredibly resilient,” said Stoddard. “I really think that if we can all make it through this and focus on trying to live our best lives as we go through this, we’re going to bounce back.”