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First The Pandemic, Now Raging Wildfires: How To Cope With The Stress Of It All

(Jude Beck via Unsplash)
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The stress of fire season is nothing new for Californians. But this year, it’s layered on top of the anxiety we’ve been feeling for months about the coronavirus pandemic.

"Depleted." That’s how UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Emanuel Maidenberg described the mental state of many people he’s interacting with these days.

What he calls the one-two punch of the virus and the fires has left a lot of people with depression.

"More and more people are likely to experience some longer-term effects as well," Maidenberg said.

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Poor air quality due to fires means less outdoor exercise — that’s one less thing we can do to stay mentally healthy.

The photos of apocalyptic red haze showing up in our social media feeds aren’t helping either.

Maidenberg suggests disconnecting a bit more right now, and instead ramping up self-care routines, such as meditation and breathing exercises.

"Whatever it is that you do, try to do more of that, not less of that," Maidenberg said. “[The] natural tendency with stress of this kind is to do less of it."

It’s also important to keep things in perspective, he said. While COVID-19 may be with us for quite a while, at least the fires will eventually burn out. At least that's something.

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