These are definitely uncertain times, nonetheless traumatic for most of us. Being in quarantine doesn’t always guarantee that we are safe from the virus. It can affect anyone from our circle. It’s normal to feel worried and anxious during these times.
Here are ways you can cope with the mental stress caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.
1. Do not avoid it
It is important to acknowledge your feelings and not avoid it. When you deny your feelings and anxieties, it will be harder to manage them later on. According to the University of Florida psychologist Joseph McNamara, “anxiety helps us to prepare and be safe.” It can help if you are aware of your anxiety to manage it in the future. You can’t avoid being anxious but you can practice tolerating uncertainty. This is through allowing it to be present and telling yourself that it’s okay to feel like this.
2. Consider all sides of the story
Never fall into a thinking trap. Anxiety causes you to dwell on worst case scenarios and your mind has the tendency to be full of it. This depends on which information you feed your mind.
For example, the number of global COVID-19 deaths is far less than the recovery rate is actually a positive sign, rather than negative. But most people tend to focus on the negative side of the story. Know all the circumstances and cross-check everything you see.
3. Unplug often
Most people obsess over news and current developments about the COVID-19 which may be unhealthy. There’s a thin line between keeping yourself informed and obsessing over everything you see and read online.
Behavioral Disorder expert Gregory Jantz says relying on social media for information about the Coronavirus outbreak will just heighten anxiety. Unless people know and distinguish facts from myths, it is very hard to cope with this kind of mental stress.
According to him, social media has a tendency to heighten one’s anticipatory anxiety. In other words, this is when someone is expecting something bad to happen. This could lead to just panic and despair. This is why it’s important for us to unplug and unwind during this quarantine period. Read a good book, meditate. There are other things to do to make the most out of your time.
4. Try to stay fit and active
Most psychologists would recommend regular exercise as a way to combat depression or any mental health issues. This is because exercise is scientifically-proven to increase hormones that make people feel good about themselves and feel happy.
A great way to ease stress and anxiety during these times is to keep active. Perform moderate exercises, run 2km on a treadmill, or at least walk around your house or your yard. These activities can be a good distraction against stress.
- Eat well & go to bed early
It is particularly important now to be mindful of one’s diet. When confined in your home, a coping mechanism of a bad eating habit can develop. And you don’t want this to happen. That’s why you need to eat healthy even when on quarantine.
Anxiety can also deprive you of good sleep. Aim to sleep for at least 7 hours every day to regain energy and fully recharge your body and immune system. Maintain this routine and you will feel your anxiety lessen.
6. Be realistic
It’s easy to lose hope when things go out of your control. Autumn Kujawa, a professor at Vanderbilt University suggests that we should be more realistic that one or two plans might not go our way, and we might not meet some goals in the next months. And that’s okay.
What’s important is we keep our expectations grounded and based on our current reality – that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Do not feel pressured to do all at once and transition your normal life to a life in quarantine easily. You may need to adjust, you will fall short, and that’s normal and totally fine.
Set goals after the quarantine period is over and just try to live in the moment. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
7. Stay in touch
The good thing about technology is its ability to connect people wherever they may be. You may be staying at home but that does not mean you should totally avoid socializing or even talking to your family.
Keeping in touch with your family and friends especially during these times can help reduce your feeling of anxiety. Share your activities, recipes, tips with them everyday. It definitely helps!
When you feel like someone is increasing your stress by sharing overly negative news everyday, feel free to call them out and protect yourself.