OSU Psychology Department head offers tips on coping with coronavirus stress


One study found 81% of more than 1,000 respondents said they became progressively more anxious as their restful Sunday came to a close. Psychologists call it “anticipatory anxiety.”

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – The head of Oklahoma State University’s Department of Psychology has some tips on how community members can cope with mounting COVID-19 pandemic stress.

More and more people across the nation and here in Oklahoma have become infected by coronavirus. There have been 164 positive case of COVID-19 and five deaths from the virus in Oklahoma as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 25.

The virus has caused a massive cultural upheaval, with businesses closing and people staying indoors and social distancing from one another to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Worries about our health, our finances and our loved ones seem to increase almost daily,” said a news release from Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Thad Leffingwell, a clinical psychologist who serves as the had of the university’s psychology department, offered the following tips on how to effectively cope with stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Structure your day as much as possible. Unstructured days and loss of routines are fun for vacations, but they can add to the stress of our current situation. Schedule activities. Focus on things that bring you joy or give you a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
  2. Take care of your body and mind. Our current social distancing and self-quarantines can break our self-care habits, and stress eating can draw us to less healthy food options. Be as active as possible, and choose healthy eating options. Move often. This will be good for your mood and overall health and will help your immune system be most effective.
  3. Limit news and social media intake to avoid information overload. While it is reasonable and responsible to stay informed, it isn’t necessary to be plugged in all the time. Take breaks.
  4. Stay in the present. It is a wonderful skill of our minds to predict and plan, but sometimes that can be a trap. Use mindfulness techniques to practice returning to the here and now of this moment.
  5. Be patient. Remind yourself that the current situation, while stressful and challenging, is only temporary. The one consistent thing in life is change, and life will return to normal.
  6. Be grateful. Even in the midst of stress and challenge, gratitude is a powerful psychological antidote. Take time to count your blessings, even now, and you will find that it reduces stress and prepares you to cope with today’s challenges.

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