A lockdown has been announced… You are bombarded with media streams of death rates and pictures of people in medical isolation gear. Your social media is constantly bombarding you with worst case scenarios… How do you not feel stressed out and anxious?
First acknowledge… The situation is stressful for everyone and it is normal to be anxious and worried. And, while we must remain informed… The overwhelming volume of information and constant attention on this topic can increase stress and anxiety tremendously.
Another major challenge is that the response to pandemics can disrupt routines; people may stop the activities they use to keep well (e.g., walking, gym) and engage in activities that can make things worse (e.g., eat junk food, drink more alcohol).
Here are some ideas that might be helpful. Some might help you and some might not, find what suits you personally, your personality, where and with whom you live, or your culture. Please be creative and experiment with these ideas and strategies.
- Accept that, for a while, this will be your new normal
- Do not focus on ‘isolation’ or ‘I am stuck inside’, reframe it to ‘I have a time-out to focus on my home, my family and myself’
- Accept that it is natural to feel a measure of anxiety and stress
- Avoid fake news and ensure you are only getting facts
- Realistically evaluate your personal risk and deal with those factors you can manage ie obesity, smoking
- Find a balance, avoid obsessively following Corona virus news coverage, do not listen to news reports 24/7
- Maintain a routine… Get up at a set time, brush teeth and hair, make your bed, plan time for games, meditation, work, learning, mealtimes, etc.
- Keep your home clean, organized and predictable… It will reduce feeling of claustrophobia
- Unplug.. Do not use electronic media as an escape constantly
- Instead of the news, watch uplifting and funny movies or binge watch reality shows
- Be careful of ‘what ifs’, deal with what is real
- Start a new Isolation routine…start a daily journal to jot down thoughts, or start a puzzle or watercolor painting
- Practice relaxation and meditation
- Above all… Be kind to yourself and those isolated with you
Some Key Practical steps..always worth repeating:
- Eat healthily
- Stop smoking
- Avoid excessive caffeine
- Drink water
Finally, let go of any illusions of control. Do your bit and know that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve”. Know that you are likely saving lives by following the rules. This will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.