As the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact us all on a daily basis, it’s important to remember that the mental impact of what’s happening is just as real as physical health concerns.
Many people’s lives have been entirely turned upside down in the wake of the virus. While at first things like working from home sound like a great idea, for many it can pose issues like feeling isolated, facing technical difficulties that affect productivity, or even triggering domestic problems.
For many, their outlets for stress relief like going to the gym, going out with friends, or even running errands are no longer possible.
To varying degrees, we are also all facing the economic effects of the pandemic. The stock market is lagging, some local businesses are struggling, and the uncertainty surrounding when life can get back to normal is taking its toll on all sectors of the workforce.
Big, sudden changes to daily life can trigger feelings of fear and anxiety.
We all know that practicing social distancing will help keep us and our loved ones safe until the threat from COVID-19 has been brought to a more manageable level. Until then, it’s important to address our mental health.
Below are some tips to help you handle stress and anxiety:
- Establish a routine: while your normal routine may have changed a lot, it’s important to create a new routine that will allow you to add some stability to your day. Having a routine can be especially helpful for children. Work with your family to establish your new routine and then stick to it. The added structure will allow you to feel in control of your life despite the unpredictability in the outside world.
- Stay informed - knowing what is happening can lessen anxiety but taking in an endless stream of virus-related news can make anxiety worse. Get news from trusted sources a few times a day. Don’t believe everything you read on social media where rumors spread quickly and can easily cause panic. Take breaks from social media if you notice that your stress is increasing while you’re scrolling.
- Stay physically healthy - as much as possible, keep eating balanced, nutritious meals, find ways to get some exercise in a way that you enjoy, and get a good night’s sleep. Be creative when looking for exercise opportunities. If your gym or the park where you usually run are closed, consider trying new exercises like bodyweight routines, at-home workout routine, or look for yoga or fitness studios that are streaming group classes online.
- Even if you can’t connect with friends or family in person, remember to call loved ones, set up times to video chat, send texts, or emails. Come up with creative ways to connect with loved ones who are far away like cooking the same recipe and enjoying it together on video chat or watching the same movie and texting each other your reactions.
- Take breaks and remember to breathe. When you’re feeling stressed, take a moment alone, breathe deeply through your nose and out of your mouth. If you have more time, look up some guided meditation resources and set aside time to do them.
Here are some resources that can help you address your mental health: