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Don’t stress COVID-19

Tension and anxiety is felt as at least 128 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Iowa.

As more news comes out about canceled events and gatherings Iowans are starting to feel nervous. Because of those nerves the Iowa Department of Public Health issued a document on how to handle the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s something we don’t have the chance to think about or work through very often,” said Ryan Keller, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Youth and Shelter Services.

The anxiety felt about COVID-19 is similar to any other environmental tragedy anxiety.

“The most important thing is to identify the risks, identify the support and then we’re able to utilize the information at hand to deal with those risks and turn to our support systems,” Keller said.

So far COVID-19 has garnered more attention than the flu or other common diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control website states:

“The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media.”

The CDC advised people to call their healthcare provider if the stress starts to interfere with their daily lives.

Other advice is to:

• Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19

• Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.

• Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life

• Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships

• Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking

“We need to just focus on the things we can do,” Keller said.

If watching the news increases people’s anxiety, they should limit what they are watching “so they can get the information they need without feeding their anxiety or stress,” Keller said.

As of Friday only 16 Iowans tested positive for COVID-19.

“Just continue to focus on strengths and moving forward rather than being tied to this one moment in time,” Keller said.

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