Virus Anxiety graphic

The people of Southwest Louisiana have a lot of experience dealing with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and even an occasional ice storm.

But the people of the area haven't had to deal with such a massive disease epidemic since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

The last major outbreak of yellow fever — which scourged the state numerous time in the 19th century — was in 1905. Also known as the "saffron scourge," the first yellow fever epidemic in Louisiana was in 1796 and it plagued the state during 67 summers throughout the 19th century.

But few people today can remember the 1918 Spanish flu, and the fear and anxiety brought on by the current coronavirus pandemic make dealing with mental issues important, even for people who never contract it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has a lot of information that can help people deal with the fear and anxiety they may feel.

CDC's paper "Stress and Coping," notes that people can experience fear, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, worsening of mental health conditions and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

But the agency also has some good tips on how to deal with the stress that might be of help, such as:

Take care of your body

-Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.

-Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

-Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.

-Avoid alcohol and drugs.

The CDC also recommends taking the time to unwind and try to do some activities you enjoy. And within the limits of social distancing, talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

It also recommends knowing the facts about COVID-19. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

You can find many more tips, suggestions, and details at the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

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