Being in the midst of a worldwide pandemic is truly unprecedented and a frightening time. People around the world are working non-stop to reduce the virus transmission and find a cure for it while others are busy caring for the sick. It also seems like every minute of the day, we face news reports, health statistics and social media posts, keeping us updated of the world’s state. However, these can bring great worry and stress on us which makes it all too easy to spiral out into dread and panic.
A lot of information already circulated on how we could lessen the risk of coronavirus spread which are proven to be the most effective methods, these are social distancing and regular handwashing. But aside from this, it is still imperative for all of us to pay attention to our diet and nutritional status during the ongoing pandemic. Having a healthy daily routine can have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. We can always go back to basics such as eating healthy meals, physical exercise, taking vitamins and supplements and doing hobbies we enjoy.
There may still be much uncertainty, but what you are feeling is understandable as this global health issue is really a significant challenge. We have listed a number of things you can do to look after yourself, personally manage stress brought by COVID-19 and help our loved ones to do the same.
- Acknowledge your feelings are valid
As the on-going COVID-19 pandemic implications continue to affect us globally, it’s normal for people to experience a wide range of feelings including overwhelmed, anxiety, fear, loss of interest and etc.
Keep in mind that these are valid and that it’s okay to feel that way. Allow yourself time to notice and channel these emotions through socially connecting, journaling or expressing it into something creative. In these ways, we can help ourselves to witness and harness these thoughts without getting overwhelmed by them.
- Keep thoughts in perspective
During this time of changes, we must take the time and opportunity to control what we only can and do not let the things we can’t manage, bother us. There may be a lot in our mind that we think is much bigger than us, focusing on those will only hinder us to be productive. While being stuck in the house, you can encourage your family members to do some deep cleaning, whether indoors or outdoors, work-out together, join an online program or course you want to learn and complete it. Accomplishing tasks such as these can be rewarding and that will surely lift your spirit and encourage you to do some more.
It’s natural to have many ‘what ifs’ in our minds. When in an anxious state, our brain will often fill in the blanks and will try to give answers to worst case scenarios that we catastrophize, which can leave us feeling helpless and vulnerable. When you experience this way while being locked down, make it a habit to ask yourself questions like “What strategies have helped you cope with challenging situations like this?” or “What might be a positive action that you can take now?” to shift your thinking to a more healthy and helpful mindset.
- Take good care of your health and body
Even if you’re in self-quarantine, working or studying from home, there are many ways to develop new routines that will help you stay healthy.
During this time of uncertainty, it may be natural for us to think and miss all of the normal activities we usually do before, which make us feel repressed and hindered. You can make a conscious shift and let yourself appreciate those activities you are still able to do and develop more hobbies such as reading a book, listening to a podcast, cooking a new recipe, learning a new language or playing an instrument, these new habits may keep you distracted yet fulfilled.
Whether you’re a busy professional, a hustling entrepreneur, or a hardworking homemaker, thinking about your goals and loved ones may be enough to keep you going in these stressful times, but you can’t help but feel that life has taken an irreversible toll on your health. It is a must to still maintain a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, enough sleep, physical and mental exercise, taking vitamins and supplements that will aid your body in managing stress and fighting its harmful effects.
- Make time for breaks and unwind
Throttling your media consumption is another effective way to manage anxiety and stress that overwhelm yourself. In this time of era where information is readily available on every device we use, we must adjust and set our limits around news and social media. It’s understandable that you want to keep informed and prepared. But at the same time, constantly reading, watching, or listening to media coverage can only upset and intensify your worries and often draws attention to things that you have little to no control over.
In case you get the urge to check news updates and health statistics, listen to only reliable news sources for the latest information about COVID-19, or encourage yourself to pause for a moment, witness the urge, delay and let it pass if you can. Instead, you can take an opportunity to unwind and have some alone time, experience nature if possible but follow safety protocols and social distancing guidelines. Step away from your desk or home office, take a walk around your house, talk to family members and friends, de-stress and stretch for a moment.
- Talk it out and seek help if needed
Staying connected can keep us going in these trying times. Receiving support and care from others or from loved ones can lift us up and help us cope on being quarantined or isolated. Spending time with supportive family and friends can bring a sense of comfort and stability. Talking with them about our worries, thoughts and feelings is a good way of dealing with stressful situations.
We know that it can be hard to connect sometimes, or you’re having second-thoughts in opening up to someone, but remember that practicing this may help you ease stress and you can also assure them that you’re all ears and ready to listen if they have something to share. Physical distancing doesn’t mean that you need to socially disconnect, we must take advantage of technology to stay connected so we could both give and receive support virtually for it can foster a sense of hope, purpose, and meaning to each other.
In case your anxiety is unmanageable, do not be afraid to reach out, many experts are available to provide virtual support.
This global pandemic brought us loss of lives, rapid and drastic changes to our way of living, disrupted plans due to travel restrictions and safety protocols. It is only natural to be concerned for our own and loved ones’ safety but having these piled up worries, panic and fear is usually unhelpful, especially in the long run.
It’s indeed an extraordinarily stressful time, which positively forces us to personally practice stress management strategies. Exercise, meditation, consuming healthy meals and taking vitamins and supplements will surely be of great help to our well-being. After all, self-care must always be on our top priority with or without the unique disruptions of COVID-19.