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Coronavirus won't win: How to manage your stress and anxiety in tough times

Here are tips on how to manage anxiety and stress during this global health crisis.

AUSTIN, Texas — The coronavirus pandemic is a health crisis most of us have never experienced in our lives, and it is causing unprecedented and unforeseen changes.

People are losing jobs, businesses are facing huge losses and healthcare workers, first responders, truck drivers, grocery store workers and so many others are working tirelessly to keep everyone safe and secure. 

Millions of Texans are being told to self-quarantine to help flatten the curve.

Whatever the reason may be, people may feel stressed, scared and anxious. It is important to know you are not alone. 

Nakia is a professional musician of more than 18 years. As the founder and president of Austin Texas Musicians, he knows he is not the only one hurting right now. Other musicians expressed losses impacting them. 

"This is not easy for me, I don't think it's easy for anybody," Nakia said.

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Nakia lost at least $8,500 from canceled gigs so far. While he feels anxious and stressed, he said meditation, music, family and walks with his dog help him process during these tough times.

“I try to take at least two times a day to stop, just put the phone down, take my glasses off, sit and really witness my breath and be with my body and not try to focus on anything else," he said.

Managing stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic is different for everyone, according to Ginny Maril, the associate director of clinical services at the University of Texas' Counseling and Mental Health Center. Maril holds a doctorate in psychology.

"I think it is helpful to think of things in terms of what we can control and what we cannot control," she said.

It starts by maintaining good physical health, she said. This includes eating healthy, drinking water, exercising and getting enough sleep. 

"Are we doing some of these basic physiological things that are going to help regulate our bodies and also our emotions more effectively," Maril asked. 

To help get a full night's rest, she recommended maintaining a consistent and structured sleep routine and disconnecting from your phone before lying down in bed.

The amount of information consumed on social media and news outlets may also contribute to anxiety or stress, Maril added. 

Nakia said he turns his notifications off so that he can choose when he wants to look at the information.

“I specifically only look at information from the City of Austin, from the CDC and really reputable news sources that I know are fact-based," he said.

Finally, do not internalize feelings. Maril recommended that anyone who is feeling emotional should find someone to talk to about it.

“The best things we can do are reach out to these people in our lives as safely as we can and stay connected with them," she said.

RELATED: New nonprofit aims to help Austin musicians make a living

While people practice social distancing, the best way to do this is through technology, she added. 

While it is difficult to pinpoint the end to this health crisis, Maril suggested focusing on the present instead of thinking too far ahead into the future.

"When you find yourself getting away way ahead thinking of the what-ifs and the things that could possibly happen, those are infinite," she said. "We could do that forever, all day long. When that starts happening, try to refocus and bring it back to right now.” 

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