We have little power over this global event; however, we can put energy into governing our days. Shifting your attention onto what you can control can be an excellent remedy to prevent feelings of stress, anxiety, panic, or depression. By living each day with a plan, you bring the power back into your own hands. I have found that planning and managing my day is crucial to keeping me both productive and happy. Creating and living a meaningful day has helped keep me feeling good about myself and my confidence up. In today’s complicated world, you can help yourself, family, friends, and community through positivity by following some of the guidelines highlighted in today’s social distancing survival guide.
Methods to cope with covid related stress
1. Stick to a schedule
During these times of crisis, we have no control over these extraordinary circumstances. Map out a plan for your day to create a structured routine. This helps you to gain control in your life at a time when you might feel you have none. Structure your day as close to the way your time played out before the pandemic. Keep your waking and sleeping at the same time, as well as taking meals and breaks at scheduled times. Doing this has made a massive difference for me in feeling grounded and more content during these uncertain times.
Benefit fully from a mindfully-planned day by considering each of these parts.
- Work. If working from home, keep a check that your work hours don’t extend past the time you would typically work. Stick to the same start and end times and try to have a dedicated workspace in your home. Keep your workspace out of your sleeping space if possible.
- Exercise. Any physical movement will do. Have a go at dancing, walking, cycling, jumping jacks, youtube fitness classes, squats, yoga or stair climbing. It doesn’t matter what: get your body moving, and your heart rates up for at least 15 minutes every day.
- Food. Fill your cupboards with healthy eating as best as you can. Try and keep stock of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and whole-grain products with a limit to sugary and processed foods.
- Tidy home, tidy mind. Keep on top of straightening up, cleaning, laundry, shopping, dishes and cooking. Don’t let it build-up, so you become overwhelmed or unmotivated. Schedule 15 minutes per day to focus on one room to help you with housekeeping maintenance and clutter.
- Take me time. Take at least 15 to 30 minutes daily for yourself to allow you to regroup, revitalise, and be more efficient. You may choose to take a bath, read a book, watch a movie, meditate or do yoga or listen to music. Whatever you decide to do, that is just for yourself and nothing to do with work or family, immerse yourself completely.
- Stay connected with virtual visits. Play pub quiz’s, have a Netflix party or plan a zoom call. There are so many ways to stay connected at the moment, even if it is online!
- Limit news exposure. It is necessary to keep up-to-date with the ever-evolving information about the virus to be aware of protocols, warnings, and updates. However, too much time focusing on the news can become obsessive and lead to increased anxiety. Pick a time of the day to watch or read the news, and schedule it in. To stop this affecting your sleep, choose a time before evening.
Plan your schedule for one day at a time and feel good about the chores, goals, tasks, or activities that you partially or fully completed.
2. Stay away from substance use
Keep caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and sugar to a minimum, or cut them out completely. The key is to not consume these in a more substantial amount than you did before the pandemic.
3. Make this time matter
Look ahead to when this is all over. Use this time as an opportunity to enrich your life and assess priorities. It may be take up a new hobby or revisiting an old one. You may look into learning a new skill, instrument or a language online. Dabble in the arts, have a go at writing poetry or a novel or try your hand at cooking. Volunteer work or celebrating this time with your family may bring you a lot of joy. You may come to realise more of the things that are important to you during this confusing time well and come out the other end a more content and more positive person.
4. Be aware of intensified emotional challenges
Don’t be surprised by heightened emotions and remember that many of us will feel an increase in anxiety during this particular time.
- Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Be mindful that you are experiencing more stress and practice not judging yourself or your loved ones during this unique time. This focus will help keep your negative mood and behaviours away. Although we do not know when this will end, remind yourself that there will be an end to it. Consistently tell yourself that this will not last forever and look for beauty and gratitude in as many moments as you can. This can help both to settle your jitters and to smooth over any conflicts at home.
- Stay in frequent contact with your therapist. If you don’t already have a mental health professional to speak with, now is an excellent time to look into BetterHelp online counselling. Therapists are offering online sessions by phone and video more than ever due to the pandemic and accessing mental health services when feeling isolated has never been more accessible or more affordable than it is now.
Live well, be healthy and stay safe. Take comfort from the fact that every single person in the world is experiencing this global change. Never forget that you may be socially isolated, but know that you are never alone.