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101 Ways to Cope With COVID-19 Stress

Strategies for self-care and growth during this pandemic.

 Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash
Source: Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash

We all cope differently when we are faced with challenges. Each of us has a different level of resilience when coping with the unexpected. However, having researched disasters around the globe over the last 15 years has taught me that when we need to use the healthy coping skills we’ve developed over the course of our life, we tend to stop using those skills.

There are a lot of different reasons that explain why this occurs, like feeling so overwhelmed we don’t know where to start, options for exercising coping become limited, and sometimes what worked in the past just isn’t enough to help in the present.

To help everyone struggling with how to cope with COVID-19, I’m sharing a list of 101 ways you can cope that I’ve learned from studying disasters and crises from across the world. Many of these are also strategies that I have personally used to cope with surviving Hurricane Katrina and cancer.

  1. Hold onto hope in the face of COVID-19.
  2. Try doing something that brought you enjoyment before COVID-19 got in the way.
  3. Remember there is no one way to cope with COVID-19.
  4. Interrupt anxious thoughts about COVID-19 by picturing a stop sign.
  5. Be creative in identifying and trying out new ways of coping with COVID-19 stress.
  6. Ask others you trust how they have coped with COVID-19 stress.
  7. Breathe through COVID-19 stress by inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.
  8. Soothe COVID-19 stress by protecting time to relax.
  9. Share your COVID-19 stress by talking with someone you trust.
  10. Escape COVID-19 anxiety by picturing yourself being somewhere meaningful.
  11. Distract your COVID-19 stress by focusing on something entertaining.
  12. Do what is life-giving for you amidst COVID-19 that still brings joy.
  13. Push through COVID-19 stress by trying to stick with regular routines.
  14. Literally “walk off” COVID-19 stress or do other light exercise, if able.
  15. Accept difficult COVID-19 challenges by picturing the pain washing over and past yourself.
  16. Grieve COVID-19 stress by releasing your emotions holding you down.
  17. Holistically address COVID-19 stress by attending to physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
  18. Search for meaning amidst COVID-19 by holding onto your ideals.
  19. Do something fun that you haven’t done in some time because of COVID-19.
  20. Journal about your COVID-19 experience.
  21. Remind yourself during COVID-19 of other times in your life when you were able to endure prolonged stress.
  22. If you are up for it, try watching a show or movie that speaks to your COVID-19 stress.
  23. Try to watch something funny that makes you smile or laugh on a regular basis during COVID-19.
  24. It’s OK if you deal with COVID-19 stress differently than how others close to you deal with their COVID-19 stress.
  25. Be mindful that some ways of coping with COVID-19 may help short-term but harm long-term.
  26. Practice self-compassion when COVID-19 limits your abilities.
  27. Advocate for your needs or find someone who can advocate for you during COVID-19.
  28. Find a progressive muscle relaxation script online to cope with COVID-19 stress.
  29. Listen to music or sing a song to yourself that helps you soothe anxiety related to COVID-19.
  30. Paradoxically find a greater sense of control over your pain by releasing control over your COVID-19 experience.
  31. It is OK to acknowledge that life may not go back to “normal” because of COVID-19.
  32. Read inspiring stories of others who have navigated COVID-19.
  33. Try to learn and reduce your exposure to triggers or situations that make COVID-19 worse.
  34. Be optimistic but also realistic about COVID-19.
  35. Hope to be able to overcome COVID-19 stress but put your energy into enduring the stress.
  36. Remember your body needs rest to resist COVID-19 stress.
  37. When COVID-19 stress takes all your energy in the middle of the day, take a nap.
  38. If you are feeling guilty for needing to slow down because of COVID-19, reframe it as “active resting.”
  39. If COVID-19 limits your accomplishments set new, more attainable expectations.
  40. Communicate how you need others to “sit” in the pain with you when struggling with COVID-19 stress.
  41. Do something that feels familiar to help you remember you are more than your anxiety about COVID-19.
  42. It’s OK to hold back and tell others “no” who compound your stress when discussing COVID-19.
  43. Remember journeying through COVID-19 is more like a marathon than a sprint.
  44. Let yourself feel anger and other difficult emotions caused by COVID-19 but don’t get stuck there.
  45. When COVID-19 makes everything seem impossible, set one small attainable goal to do.
  46. Set small attainable goals and repeat until you build momentum when feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19.
  47. Find community with others who know what it is like to live with anxiety during COVID-19.
  48. Look to your culture for ways to cope with COVID-19 stress and anxiety.
  49. When feeling isolated because of COVID-19, surround yourself with pictures or cards that encourage.
  50. When you can, try to find something beyond COVID-19 to be grateful about.
  51. Don’t waste the challenges you are experiencing because of COVID-19 by channeling it into helping others.
  52. Remind others helping you that your caregiver(s) are also going through pain because of COVID-19.
  53. Don’t feel forced into sharing your COVID-19 stress with others before you are ready.
  54. If it’s hard to share about your COVID-19 stress or anxiety, start small and share as you are able over time.
  55. Seek help from a health care and/or mental health provider for COVID-19 stress.
  56. Learn to live amid COVID-19 instead of waiting for COVID-19 to pass in order to live.
  57. Give yourself permission to take a break from thinking about COVID-19.
  58. Limit media exposure that may be intensifying COVID-19 anxiety.
  59. Engage in joyful activities that push away COVID-19 anxiety.
  60. Learn to recognize negative ways you’ve coped with COVID-19 stress.
  61. As best as you can, try doing what you did prior to COVID-19.
  62. Advocate on the behalf of others who are struggling because of COVID-19.
  63. Look to poems, books, and sacred writing that give you encouragement for facing COVID-19.
  64. Tell others what you need from them and how they can help when you are struggling with COVID-19.
  65. Try to integrate your COVID-19 struggles into your life story.
  66. Hope for the best but be realistic about COVID-19.
  67. Let go of the survivor guilt linked to your COVID-19 stress.
  68. Approach your COVID-19 struggles with a spirit of humility.
  69. Don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help with COVID-19 stress and anxiety.
  70. Forgive yourself and others associated with your COVID-19 stress.
  71. Be aware of COVID-19 emotional triggers.
  72. Practice mindfulness when thinking about COVID-19 starts to overwhelm.
  73. Be honest with yourself about how much you are struggling with COVID-19 anxiety.
  74. When you are ready, be willing to lean into the painful parts of your COVID-19 story.
  75. Notice your strengths despite COVID-19 stress.
  76. Give yourself time to deal with emotional struggles caused by COVID-19.
  77. Try not to pathologize the way you think about your COVID-19 mental health.
  78. Seek connection with others during COVID-19.
  79. Avoid minimizing or trivializing your COVID-19 struggles.
  80. Try to reframe your COVID-19 struggles.
  81. Partner with others to problem solve your struggles causing you significant COVID-19 stress.
  82. Make a plan for how you might learn to cope with COVID-19 stress.
  83. Invest time in meaningful relationships amidst COVID-19.
  84. Identify resources that give you hope in the face of COVID-19.
  85. Tap into your beliefs when pain strikes to find comfort during COVID-19.
  86. Consider life lessons you’ve learned from COVID-19.
  87. Reflect on times when you’ve struggled with pain but emerged as a stronger person, when overwhelmed by COVID-19.
  88. Remember you aren’t alone in your COVID-19 journey.
  89. Focus on one hurt at a time when COVID-19 stress becomes complicated.
  90. Find creative ways to express COVID-19-related emotions.
  91. Do something to “pay it forward” the next time someone helps you amidst COVID-19.
  92. As best as you can, maintain healthy sleep, eating, and exercise habits to cope with COVID-19 stress and anxiety.
  93. Avoid over-focusing on your COVID-19 anxiety.
  94. Write down negative thoughts that may be making your pain harder to manage COVID-19 stress.
  95. Spend time thinking about who the important people are in your life when feeling isolated because of COVID-19.
  96. Explore what gives you purpose to help you endure COVID-19 stress.
  97. Learn about something new to help you cope with COVID-19 stress.
  98. Give yourself permission to not have to use video on all those video calls when feeling stressed by COVID-19.
  99. Don’t compare your COVID-19 experience to others based on their social media posts.

100. Make plans for the future that you would like to do once COVID-19 passes.

101. Make your own list of creative ideas for coping with COVID-19.

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