It is no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has done a number on the international community’s mental health. It seems that not a single person was left unscathed this past year, and it’s not hard to understand why. We’ve collectively seen death and disease in staggering numbers, been forbidden to leave our homes and see our loved ones, experienced loss of income and unemployment, and been forced to come to terms with our world looking nothing like the one we’d grown up with and gotten used to.
It’s no wonder why the number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder has gone up by 400% from one in ten to four in ten during the pandemic. And with higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression come more challenges: difficulty sleeping and eating, increase in alcohol consumption and substance abuse, and worsening chronic health conditions. Yet the perpetually underfunded mental health services sector is only being more disrupted or even halted in 93% of countries worldwide, specifically during a time when we need it most.
That being said, if you are one of the many people who are finding themselves experiencing increased anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this does not mean that there aren’t steps you can take to help cope. By being proactive and taking means to address your stress and anxiety in a healthy way, you will improve your resiliency and get through the remainder of this pandemic if not better off, than at least with more strength and coping tools.
Give Yourself a Break
When something as major as a global pandemic – the first in nearly all of our lifetimes – happens, it is only natural to want to stay in the loop and informed about what is going on. You have an innate tendency to seek knowledge about what is going on around you, what the latest science tells us, what the most up-to-date health guidelines are, how many people are sick, how many are recovered, and how many have succumbed to the disease.
However, when you’re constantly checking the news and receiving an endless barrage of stories about all of the tragedy that is being wrought worldwide, it can become incredibly overwhelming and upsetting. So to help avoid these feelings of burden, consider limiting your consumption of Coronavirus news stories. You won’t miss out on anything important by stepping away from the news cycle every once in a while. Further, taking your eyes off of the screens that are so ubiquitous in our world will do your well-being good.
Prioritize Your Health and Well-Being
Speaking of wellness, one of the most important ways you can cope with anxiety is to take care of your body. After all, we are one, complete organism and our mental and physical well-being are interconnected in ways that cannot be untangled. Just like your anxiety can make you feel physically unwell, taking care of yourself physically can help improve your mood and lower your stress.
It’s easy during a pandemic to let healthy habits slip and allow our physical health to go neglected, but fighting this impulse will do you a world of good. Even actions as simple as getting up and showering every morning and eating a healthy breakfast can make a huge difference.
So to whatever extent you feel that you can, make an effort to commit to some if not all of the following healthy habits:
Get plenty of sleep
Eat healthy, balanced meals with lots of variety
Get physical exercise on a regular basis
Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
Take deep breaths, meditate, and stretch
See the doctor when you are feeling unwell
Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you
You’ll be sure to find that once you start acting like a healthy person, you’ll start feeling like one, too, eventually lowering your stress levels.
Connect With Others in Your Community
One of the most challenging parts of this pandemic has been the isolation that it has put us all in. Human beings are social creatures and it is not natural for us to go months at a time without interacting with others. Being cut off from your support system can feel like a major blow, and feeling alone and isolated is a serious health problem, even to the extent that it is a risk factor for early mortality.
Of course, there is a reason why we’ve been suffering through isolation anyway. It’s one of the most effective steps we can all take to stop the spread of the pandemic. But social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to cut off all contact with others. Finding ways to maintain a sense of social connection and community that do not increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 is an important, even life-saving measure.
The good news is that we live in a time in which physical proximity is no longer a requirement for getting in touch with others. The internet is a tool that you can use to speak to and even see friends and family, attend virtual classes and gatherings, and reach out to mental health specialists and counseling services specifically aimed to help people get through the pandemic without feeling too isolated.
Whether you pick up the phone, send an e-mail, Facebook message, or Instagram DM, join a Zoom call or a webinar, or even send a good old-fashioned letter, making an active effort to reach out and connect with others is highly recommended.
Do What You Love
For many of us, our focus right now is on day-to-day survival. But such an approach can be tiring over time as we lose track of the things that make life fun and exciting. While you can’t necessarily take part in fun group activities at bars and restaurants, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy yourself and have a good time in order to unwind and receive a boost of endorphins.
So whether you choose to watch a funny movie or stand-up special, host a one-man dance party, cook yourself a delicious meal, do some rejuvenating yoga, or engage in one of your favorite hobbies that you never used to have enough time for, carving a bit of your day out to do activities that put a smile on your face and some lift into your heart is an important survival strategy.
Because the reality is that this pandemic didn’t turn out to be the temporary, short-term inconvenience many of us hoped it would become in the beginning. Although the vaccinations are finally here and hope for a return to our routines is on the horizon, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has become and continues to be our new normal, at least for the past year and now more. So developing the ability to find joy and laughter under these trying circumstances can help you to feel a sense of normalcy and potentially even find positivity in what has been an incredibly challenging year.
Reach Out For Help
In all fairness, these interventions can do quite a bit, but they can’t always make anxiety disappear, certainly not for everybody. The reality is that some problems require solutions more intensive than the ones we can achieve on our own from home. Sometimes, we need the help of professionals and dedicated services to address our mental health issues. And there is absolutely no shame in seeking out help of this kind – especially now when we are seeing more than ever just how critical mental health is.
If you feel like the help that you need goes beyond the suggestions listed above, we encourage you to look into our luxury recovery center focused on one-on-one treatment and personalized care. Located in Florida, Tikvah Lake offers the ultimate in personalization, comfort, and privacy. With only six beds in our center, our staff of experienced medical, physical, spiritual, and culinary professionals focuses entirely and uniquely on each guest’s specific needs.
To help facilitate healing and wellness, we offer an expansive, 15,000 square foot facility with a pool, spa, dock, and boat as well as a library, lounges, gourmet kitchen, private therapy spaces, recreational room, and generously sized bedrooms with en suites. And for those interested in taking advantage of the healing power of nature and movement, we are located adjacent to a State Park with miles of hiking trails.
If you are ready to start your healing and recovery journey, reach out today.
Fears about coronavirus can take an emotional toll, especially if you’re already experiencing an anxiety disorder. Being in the midst of a worldwide pandemic is a frightening time. Some people live in areas where coronavirus infection rates are higher and higher every week, and others are bracing for whatever may come next.
For many people, the hardest thing to handle is the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. No one knows exactly how they’ll be impacted, how bad things may get, or how long this will last. This means that the entire situation makes it all too easy to spiral out into overwhelming panic.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to manage your anxiety and fears even in the face of this unprecedented crisis.
What are the ways to take care of yourself during the coronavirus pandemic?
Whether you’re already living with anxiety or depression or your mental health has taken a turn for the worse because of the pandemic, here are some of the ways you can take care of yourself during this unique crisis.
Remain informed but don’t check the news obsessively
It’s important to remain informed, particularly regarding what’s happening in your local community, so you can do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus and follow the recommended safety precautions. However, this is a period where a lot of misinformation is going around, not to mention sense the amount of sensationalistic coverage that feeds into fear.
Try to stick to reliable sources such as the World Health Organization or your local public health authorities, and limit how often you check for updates. Most people have found that the constant monitoring of social media feeds and news is counterproductive and can turn into compulsiveness. Instead of easing your anxiety, constantly checking for updates is likely to fuel it instead.
Setting some limits to your media consumption is often beneficial for your mental health. While it’s important to stay informed, being bombarded with news that induce anxiety is counterproductive, so set a limit that works for you and stick to it.
Only focus on things that you can control
These are unprecedented times, and most things are outside of your control, including what’s going to happen in your community, how long the pandemic will last, and how other people choose to behave. Even though it’s difficult to accept that you don’t have control over the outcome, it’s important to only focus on what you can actually control.
Try to shift the focus on reducing your own personal risk and the risk of unknowingly spreading the disease by staying at home as much as possible even if you aren’t sick, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding touching your face, avoiding all nonessential shopping and travel, and avoiding crowds and gatherings of more than 10 people.
It is essential to take care of yourself by eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Both these things can help support your immune system while also contributing positively to your mental health.
Stay connected with the important people in your life
Social distancing is essential for stopping the spread of coronavirus, but it comes with lots of mental health risks. Humans are hardwired for social connection, which means that loneliness and isolation can exacerbate depression and anxiety.
For this reason, it’s important to remain connected as much as possible and reach out for support when you need it, even if it’s not possible to enjoy in-person socializing.
Make it a priority to remain in touch with your family and friends, even if you are one of the many people who tend to withdraw when they feel anxious or depressed. If you feel that your spending days or weeks without human conduct, try to schedule regular phone calls or Zoom dates with important people in your life.
Social media is a good tool to keep you connected not just for your family and friends but also with the community you live in and the entire world. Feeling connected reminds you that you’re not alone, but it’s also important to be mindful of how social media makes you feel. If you believe that being connected with all kinds of people and following their discussion is exacerbating your anxiety, don’t hesitate to log off.
Take care of your body and mind
This is a trying time, so it’s important to apply all the stress management strategies that have been proven to work for most people. Practicing self-care means taking care of both your body and spirit, so here are some self-care steps to follow to reduce your levels of anxiety.
Maintain a routine even if you’re stuck at home. Try to speak to your regular sleep, meal, or work schedule even if you are working from home because this can help you maintain a sense of normalcy.
Be kind to yourself. If you feel that you’re experiencing more anxiety or depression than usual, don’t be hard on yourself and remember that you are not alone in your struggle.
Reserve time for activities you enjoy. Whether it’s watching a movie, reading a good book, or playing a videogame, take time out to do something you enjoy. It doesn’t actually matter what activity is as long as it takes your worries away.
Get out of the house as much as possible. Fresh air and sunshine are good for you, so even a quick stroll around the neighborhood can make you feel better. Just make sure you obey the restrictions in your area and give your distance from the crowds.
Remain active and exercise. Physical exercise is a great way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and manage your mood. If your local gym is closed, try running or go for a walk in the park. Cycling, hiking, or exercising at home following online videos are all good options to remain fit during this trying time.
Avoid “self-medication.” Even though people tend to self-medicate using alcohol or other substances to deal with depression and anxiety during difficult times, you should avoid it as much as possible. This is particularly important if you tend to overdo it in normal times.
Take up a relaxation practice. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and yoga can all be of help when you feel stressed. By incorporating a regular relaxation technique into your life, you can restore your sense of equilibrium.
Help other people
It’s easy to get caught up in your own concerns and fears during difficult times like this. But amid all the stories about people fighting over masks and vaccines, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.
By focusing on other people in need and doing your part in the community, you are likely to feel less anxious. It has been demonstrated time and again that people who help others tend to be happier and heathier than those who only act in their interest.
By offering your help to neighbors or family, making a donation, or using your skills to help others, you can regain a sense of control over your life while also adding meaning and purpose.
Try keeping a mood diary
When you’re feeling low, your self-esteem might drop, and it’s easy to feel like you’re failing at everything. If you’re in a place where you feel like your mood is constantly low, keeping a mood diary may help you get back on track.
This is a diary there you can note the times and activities that tend to make you feel better or worse. You can keep a traditional diary or opt for an online version such as MoodPanda, for example, which is available for free.
Seek professional help
If you find that the pandemic has been seriously affecting your mental health, it’s vital to seek professional help. If it’s not possible to see a therapist in person, look for online options instead. Urgent support is also available if you feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe.
Taking care of yourself if you’re struggling with anxiety about coronavirus can better equip you to take care of others. During these unprecedented times of social distancing, it’s especially important to remain connected with the important people in your life, such as your family and friends.
If you’re struggling to cope, there are numerous ways to get help. If you feel that stress gets in the way of your activities multiple days in a row, call your health care provider to ask for advice. There are also free and confidential resources available in most area that can help you or a loved one connect with trained counselor.