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How to manage stress during social distancing

Challenging situations can lead to greater stress and anxiety. Bill Burns, NDSU Counseling Center director, has some suggestions for managing stress caused by social-distancing: 

·      Practice self-care. Eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, spend time in nature and do something positive that you enjoy each day.

·      Stay connected. Use phone calls, text messages, video chat and other social media to connect with your social support networks.

·      Take a break from the news. Set aside one or two times a day you will check-in on trusted news sources; otherwise, focus on other things.

·      Learn something new with the extra free time you may now have available.  Learn a new language, read a series of books, start an exercise routine or learn to play a musical instrument. Go for a walk or a bike ride to get fresh air.  

·      Consider practicing mindfulness and learning meditation.  The NDSU Counseling Center’s web site has information about how to make both of these a part of life.  Science has shown that both are helpful in alleviating the adverse effects of anxiety.

It’s important to get into a daily routine that is both productive and active.

“The stress many of us are feeling right now is some of the worst kind of stress,” added Clayton Hilmert, NDSU associate professor of psychology, whose research interests include stress psychophysiology. “We all know this pandemic will eventually end, but it’s not clear when that will be, and this uncertainty is what makes this a major stressor. There is very little each of us can do to make the pandemic come to an end; we feel a lack of control, which adds to the stress.”

Seek professional help if you are experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety, anger, irritability, sadness or hopelessness, significant impairments in daily functioning; thoughts of self-harm; substance abuse; or thoughts of suicide.

NDSU faculty and staff members can take advantage of the University’s Employee Assistance Program, and NDSU students can seek help at the NDSU Counseling Center – call 231-7671 during normal business hours to schedule an appointment. 

The public can call FirstLink, 24-hour hotline for the Fargo-Moorhead area. FirstLink can be contacted by dialing 2-1-1, calling 701-235-7335 or 1-800-273-8255.

"Be mindful that you are more resilient than you think," Burns said. "Focus on what you can control and look for opportunities for growth along the way."


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North Dakota State University
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