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Handling Stress of Social Distancing

Here are some tips to help you manage the stress of being stuck at home.

Nashville, Ark. – Last week we all thought Covid-19 was going to be on its way out and life would return to normal. However, it looks like it may be around for several weeks and we all need to take precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Most of us are spending more time at home, avoiding contact with others and basically our lives have turned upside down. Here are some tips to help you manage the stress of being stuck at home, either by yourself or with those you love.

            Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Some common feelings are anxiety, worry, or fear over you or a loved one catching the disease. Worry about how you will meet your financial obligations or how you will get the things you need such as groceries, personal care items and medicines.

            You may be concerned over how you will care for your children. Who is going to watch them, if you are working? You may be asking yourself, “What are we going to do with all this time on our hands?” Boredom and frustration may set in because your normal routine has changed.

            Frustrated at how long this will last. Loneliness and feeling like you are cut off from those you love.

            So, what can you do to handle the stress of isolation? Here are some ways to help relieve the pressures.

  • Keep a Healthy Diet – When you are at home it can be tempting to become a “couch potato”. Instead of grabbing that bag of chips or cookies, try snacking on fresh veggies or fruit. Try a cup of yogurt with fruit. Canned or frozen fruits are great alternatives to fresh. They are healthy choices when fresh may not be available.
  • Prepare Healthy Meals – Again, it is easy to grab prepackaged foods and pop them in the microwave. Many prepackaged foods have extra fat, calories and sodium than foods prepared from scratch. Involve the family in helping you prepare a healthy meal. Check out the website to see what makes a healthy plate. On a side note, there are games and activities that teaches eating right for children to do on the website. Check it out!
  • Enjoy Nature – If possible, get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Take a walk in your neighborhood, keeping distance between those you meet. Find activities to do with your children online that gets them outside. You might print off a scavenger hunt or keep a journal of what you see outside. Then research the insect, plant, bird or animal that you see.
  • Exercise! – There are many exercises you can do at home. There is plenty of research being done that connects our physical health with our mental health. Yoga, stretching or strength training exercises are great. If you still have a gaming system that involves bowling, tennis, baseball or dance moves, pull it out of storage. There are many exercise videos you can move to online. The idea is to get up and get moving!
  • Maintain a Sense of Routine – If you find yourself staying in your pajamas all day and you haven’t brushed your hair or teeth, maybe it’s time to evaluate your routine. Children and adults thrive on routines. Go to bed and wake up at regular times. Avoid falling into a cycle of sleeping, watching tv, eating and repeating. A routine gives purpose and wards off feelings of depression.
  • Make a Plan and Stick to It! – Set up a schedule of what you want to accomplish each day. Being isolated allows you time to do those chores you have been putting off. It also allows you time to start a new project! If you have children at home, set a time to play games, make a new craft, try out a new recipe, learn a new feature on your mobile device; such as, skyping, FaceTime, or new app. Read a book or start a garden by planting seeds that can be transferred to your outside garden later.
  • Stay Connected – Just because you are stuck at home, doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off socially. Call someone and visit. Stay connected through email and social media.
  • Limit News and Media – Constantly hearing about the coronavirus can impact your mental health. Take a break from the news on the TV or on social media. Get information and updates at specific times during the day. Make sure the information you are receiving is from a reliable source.

These are challenging times for everyone. We will get through them and life will return to normal. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service has several resources for financial management, managing stress, eating healthy and exercise. Check out the website for more information.

The Howard County Extension Office is open and conducting business as much as possible. However, all meetings have been postponed for now. If we can assist you call our office at 870-845-7517. You can also keep up-to-date with activities through our Facebook pages at Howard County Extension-FCS, Howard-County-4-H, or Howard Co. UAEX Ag & Natural Resources. Just search and like the page you are interested in.


Recipe of the Week

Try this recipe with your family. Be creative and add your own toppings! You can get the whole family involved in preparing dinner. Add a salad for a complete meal!

Quick and Easy Pizza

2 cups flour, divided in half

1 packet rapid rise instant yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 teaspoon sugar

¾ cup warm water (110⁰F to 115⁰F)

Nonstick cooking spray

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 cup commercial pizza sauce or make your own Marinara sauce

1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Toppings of your choice

            Preheat oven to 375⁰F. In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and water with a spoon. Gradually stir in the other cup of flour until the mixture forms a ball. Do not overmix.

            Dust a cutting board with some flour (about 2 Tablespoons). Put the ball of dough on the surface, then use your clean hands to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Children love to do this part!

            Spray a bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl and cover it with a clean dish towel. Put the bowl on the oven while it is preheating (but not on the burner), and let it sit for 15 minutes.

            Spray a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the dough into an even 1/8-inch layer on the baking sheet. For a thicker crust, use a smaller baking sheet. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning evenly on the dough.

            Bake the pizza dough without any toppings in the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Add a thin layer of the sauce, leaving a ½-inch crust on all edges. Add the shredded cheese and pizza toppings. Be careful not to put too many toppings on the pizza, or it will be soggy.

            Bake for approximately 16 to 20 minutes until the crust is brown and the cheese melts and is slightly browned in spots. Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any) within 2 hours. Eat within 3 to 5 days.

Nutrition Facts: Yield-4 servings, 380 calories, 8g Fat, 470mg Sodium, 58g Carbohydrates, 4g Fiber, 19g Protein

Easy Marinara Sauce

2 Tablespoons oil

2 medium onions, diced

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 carrots, peeled and diced

¾ cup diced celery

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups raw spinach, roughly chopped (optional)

            Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic powder. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is clear. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes until slightly soft. Add the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together. Taste, and add salt and pepper.

            Bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low. Simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach (if using) and cook for 2 minutes until spinach wilts. Serve over pasta or as pizza sauce.

Nutrition Facts: 16 servings (1/2 cup each), 35 calories, 2g fat, 15mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.