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Ann Marie Puig provides strategies for helping employees cope in the COVID-19 environment

It’s normal to feel stressed, sad, or concerned about COVID-19, especially if you or your loved one is sick. There is no right way to cope with the situation and each person deals with stress differently. Ann Marie Puig, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Costa Rica, offers tips business leaders can provide to their employees to help them deal with the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

The coronavirus disease pandemic can be stressful for everyone. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and generate strong emotions in both adults and children. Public health measures, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and in solitude and may increase stress and anxiety. However, these measures are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

It’s more important than ever to remain connected to your family and friends. Explains Puig, “While you may not be able to be with them in person, you can call your friends and family, text them, and video chat with them. You may find it helpful to plan daily calls with your loved ones so you have something to look forward to. You can also try video chatting with your family during meals or to participate in games together.”

Don’t spend too much time watching the news. While it’s important to be aware of the news right now, it can be overwhelming. Everyone, employees and managers, should take a break from the news on TV, newspapers and radio, including social media.

If you have an outdoor space make the most of it. Go out and read, write, paint, choose to eat out or listen to music. Being in an outdoor space can give you a space for a moment to stop thinking about the news.

Get into a routine. While the routine may have changed because of COVID-19, employees should try to create a new one that they can follow in this period. One possibility is to schedule an hour to relax and disconnect from the news. If there are parts of your weird routine, they should try to find ways to add them to the day differently, such as virtual meetings with friends and family.

Take care of the body.
“Taking care of your body will not only make you feel better, but it can also keep you from getting sick,” says Puig. “Remind your employees to try to eat healthy foods, drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, do light physical activity (such as walking or stretching), and sleep for at least seven hours. It can also be helpful to create reminders for these healthy activities.”

Start a new hobby. If employees are spending a lot of time at home, which is likely since remote work has become prevalent, they should try a new hobby or do things they like but for which they didn’t always have time for. Some examples include reading a book, putting together a puzzle, trying a recipe or watching a TV show.

Relaxation techniques are always a great way to reduce anxiety. They include taking deep breaths, stretching, and meditation, all of which can help employees cope with stress. Additionally, they can also try acupressure (putting pressure on parts of their body to help you relax.

Although stress and anxiety may seem inescapable right now, employees can take steps to control them both. “You can learn resilience,” asserts Puig. “However, in the current situation, you may have to think differently. It’s important to recognize that our lives are very altered right now, and your proven and true response strategies may not work right now. Accept that and look for new ones.”