COVID-19 is perhaps the greatest global disruption to our lifestyles that many of us can remember.
Most people are feeling heightened degrees of stress and anxiety as a result. For some, these fears might revolve around getting sick or someone they know getting sick. For others, they could concern lost income. For others still, the concern may be more global in nature—worrying about the future of their country or humanity.
Just the loss of one’s regular life routine can also be destabilizing, especially if you have a psychological difference such as autism or depression which benefits from a predictable, controlled routine.
No matter what, it is in your best interest to manage your stress and anxiety as best you can. Doing so will help your immune system to keep functioning at its best. Following are some simple recommendations for minimizing your anxiety and stress in quarantine.
How much do you know about COVID-19? Chances are good that a lot of what you think you know might be misinformation. Some of that misinformation could be scary.
For example, many people believe COVID-19 sticks to most surfaces for weeks. But in reality, as this journal article points out, “On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 24 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours.” The same paper mentions that the virus only lasted 72 hours on plastics and stainless steel, and that the concentration dropped rapidly during that timeframe.
Just make sure that you are mindful of where you're getting your information. Stick with scientific sources whenever possible and avoid politically-charged propaganda or panic-infused rumors.
The CDC says, “Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.”
It is important to stay informed about what is going on. But there is no point in continuing to loop through anxiety-inducing reports or rumors again and again. Doing so will do nothing to help you stay safe. All it will do is stress you out.
When your regular routine falls apart, you might feel tempted to break with your regular healthy habits. You are stressed, so what harm is there in eating an extra scoop of ice cream every night? Who says you need 6 to 8 hours of sleep?
Even though allowing yourself some indulgences may help you manage your stress, replacing good habits with bad ones will over time erode your physical and psychological health. So, keep getting a full night of sleep every night if possible, and keep exercising and eating a healthy diet.
If you are cooped up inside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is almost no way that isn't going to adversely affect your mental health.
You do need to observe social distancing and avoid unnecessary close proximity to other people. But that doesn't stop you from spending time in your own yard, visiting a nature park which is still open, or even going for walk around the block, so long as you are staying away from others.
Even though we call it "social distancing," we should probably more accurately call it "physical distancing."
You do not need to be disconnected from friends and family at this time. You just need to switch to a different way of staying connected like using video chat or the phone. Doing so will be good for your mental health and that of people you love.
If you follow social media, you will notice that a lot of people are doing cool stuff right now to keep others entertained and optimistic. For example, there are a lot of free tours and classes going on online. So check these out.
There is absolutely no reason to be bored in your own home. If you have an old hobby which has fallen by the wayside over the years, this is your chance to dive back in. Don't have one? Research a sublimated interest or try something you always wanted to, but never have found the time for. Who knows? It could even be life-changing.
While a great deal of our anxiety is unnecessary, there is no denying that many of us are facing valid, serious problems right now. To try and alleviate stress and anxiety, don’t delay in tackling problems, and consider exploring your options now if you are worried about losing a job or so forth.
Anxiety is fueled by imagining worst case scenarios and fixating on problems, even as our minds tell us that we are searching for solutions.
One way of counteracting that is to focus exclusively on solutions. So, for example, instead of reading incessantly about the symptoms of coronavirus, you focus on what you can do to not get sick. Instead of worrying about the possibility of a layoff, you focus on networking and searching for job opportunities.
Even if your old routine is gone, that does not mean that you cannot create a new one. In particular, try and come up with a routine for relaxing before bedtime so that you can get a full night of sleep each night. Insomnia can feed into depression and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle. A routine can help you prevent that from happening.
Another benefit of a routine is that it provides you with structure and some sense of control in your life. That is critically important at a time like this when it is so hard not to focus on what you cannot control.
No matter what happens with COVID-19 and the world at large, some things don’t change. A lot of people are more aware of their mortality right now than they usually are. But that is just a wake-up call. Either way, you only get this life, here and now, once. So, whether you are under quarantine or not, it makes sense to live it as fully as you can. Your normal personal concerns and goals still matter.
On the other hand, this is a good reminder that none of us live in a vacuum, and we are all connected. So another way to reduce your stress and anxiety is to donate, volunteer, or do something else to help out others in need. If you know you are part of the solution, you will feel better than you would just sitting on your hands waiting for something to change. The only way we will get through this is together.
You have some suggestions now for how you can manage stress and anxiety and keep up your spirits during the COVID-19 quarantine. If you are looking for additional recommendations, consider taking a natural herbal supplement to boost your mood or help you sleep.
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