Schools are closing. Millions of people have been told to leave the office and work from home. The grocery store shelves are bare, and toilet paper is a rare commodity.
To add insult to injury, citizens are being told that they can’t visit their parents or grandparents. Meanwhile, those same parents and grandparents aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously, even though the majority of deaths have been among the 60-somethings and up.
Needless to say, there are countless sources of stress during the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re feeling anxiety over the global pandemic, you’re not alone (it is, after all, a global pandemic). That said, you shouldn’t have to suffer with stress. There are ways you can cope with it and maintain your mental health, no matter how much this ordeal impacts your life.
Limit Your Media Intake
Of course, it’s important to stay informed and up to date on the most recent changes and guidelines during this confusing time. However, there’s a fine line between staying informed and overwhelming yourself with the flurry of news updates that come every 10 minutes or so.
Research shows that the more media people consume during disasters, the more their stress and distress levels go up. Though you shouldn’t ignore the news altogether (ignorance is not bliss during a global pandemic), you should be selective of when, how and how often you expose yourself to the media. Limit your media intake to just once or twice a day, such as during your morning cup of coffee and right after dinner. Be choosy in the outlets you subscribe to. Many, especially those that publish mostly on social media, tend to offer vague or sensationalized information, neither of which are helpful. If you begin to grow overwhelmed by what you read, take a break from social media altogether.
Develop and Stick to a Routine
Part of your stress may come from the fact that your entire routine has been disrupted. You don’t have to take the kids to school. You don’t have to get ready for work. You can’t do your weekly grocery shopping or attend your biweekly gym session. If you’re like many people, you feel lost.
The good news is, calming your nerves may be as simple as developing a new routine. Even though you work from home, you can set working hours, allocate times for lunch and breaks, and designate a quitting time. You can still exercise — you’ll just have to be more creative in how you do it. Go for a run before dinner or do yoga before you sit down to your computer for the day. Creating a new routine doesn’t have to be hard, and your efforts can have a wealth of benefits for your mental health.
Know You’re Not Alone
It’s difficult to not feel alone when city, state and federal governments are literally encouraging you to distance yourself from your social circles, church and loved ones. However, despite social distancing mandates, know that you are not alone. In fact, you are far from it.
COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging impact on nearly every person across the globe. For the first time in decades, individuals across every socioeconomic class, culture, political background and religious sect are united by a common plight and, more importantly, a common cause. Everyone has lost something. Everyone wants the virus contained. And, hopefully, everyone will work together to make that happen. This concerted effort shouldn’t make you feel alone, but rather as if you are part of something greater — because you are.
COVID-19 has and will continue to disrupt lives for the next couple of months. While it can be so easy to let the disruptions mess with your mental health, you can make a concerted effort to ease the stress and make the most of a bad situation with the above tips.