With so much happening because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, health professionals say it’s important to remember your mental health too.

Reed Stoddard is the Counseling Center director at BYU-Idaho, and he talked to BYU-Idaho Radio about the stress and anxiety many people feel due to this virus.   

He said stress is a normal part of life and it can even help us to stay focused on the tasks we need to do, however, too much stress, or distress, can really affect our daily lives.  

Stress goes beyond a certain level and it becomes problematic,” he said, “like we kind of become overwhelmed, our productivity goes down, our sense of well-being goes down, so stress is something that requires attention from us.” 

Stress becomes distress when we focus a lot on the things we can’t control.  This makes us feel helpless and unsure of what the future holds. That is why the most important action we can take during difficult times is putting our attention to the things we can control.  

We can take action by following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, like washing our hands and staying home. States like Idaho have a stay-at-home order from the governor. 

Stoddard also explained that we can give ourselves positive talks. Just speak to yourself in the third person and give yourself encouragement. This is known as psychological distancing.  

“We kind of step away from the thing that is causing us stress a little bit by just coaching ourselves, almost like in third person,” he said. 

You can say something like, “Reed you can handle this,” Stoddard explained. The way of saying this can give us a different perspective. Also, try thinking about how you will share your story with your relatives in the future so you are reminded this will not last forever.  

“Just that semantic difference of going third person in my thinking about myself has been shown to help people feel like this is a problem outside of me and I can cope with it,” he said.  

Laughing and keeping a different perspective can also go a long way.  

To be able to laugh in a stressful situation can be really helpful,” he said.  

If you are a BYU-Idaho student and you want to meet with a counselor at the Counseling Center please don’t go to the office since it’s closed due to COVID-19. For more information about the Counseling Center please click here.  

For emergencies, please contact the 24-hour hotline at (208) 496-HELP or (208) 496-4357.