Across the world we are currently facing something outside of anything we have ever seen before. A pandemic is not something we’ve had to deal with in our lifetimes. It’s not something we, as individuals, were prepared for.
With the novel coronavirus continuing to spread across the globe, infiltrating our countries and communities, it’s understandable that many of us are feeling physically and emotionally stressed.
Living in New York, I’m finding myself in the second most affected state in the U.S., experiencing a number of emotions onset by this disease and its aggressive spread. I’ve been finding myself feeling very anxious and on a handful of occasions, have had to pull myself back from what could have easily grown into a panic attack. I take comfort knowing that I am not alone. It’s difficult not to feel anxious when the whole world is fixated on one problem; a problem that is claiming lives and rupturing our sense of safety.
Whether you have been personally affected by the virus or are feeling its effects – being asked to stay home from work and limiting your exposure to others – it’s important to make time for your wellness. Particularly, your mental health.
Here are some of the ways I’ve been prioritizing my mental health as a means of coping with this worldwide crisis:
Take breaks from reading the news – It’s important to stay informed but it’s also important to take care of yourself. Check up on the news for 10 minutes in the morning before taking a break. Check it again once more in the evening to catch up on what you’ve missed throughout the day but try your best not to fixate on headlines from dawn ’til dusk.
Unplug – Similar to reading the news, it’s important to spend time away from screens. Pay attention to how much time you are spending in front of your phone, laptop, tablet and television and make a point to cut back. This is especially important if you are currently quarantined or working from home for the foreseeable future. Getting stuck in front of screens all day can lead to you feeling disconnected from your everyday life and can cause feelings of lethargy.
Practice relaxation – Meditating, reading or even spending time in the kitchen can help you de-stress and relax. Find hobbies that help you find a sense of calm and spend time doing them each day. For some this could mean knitting, playing a musical instrument, woodworking, etc.
Use this time to take care of yourself – Whether you’re quarantined, working from home, or using this period of time to stay isolated as much as possible, you can find a silver lining in your situation. How often are you able to spend this much time in your living space? Now is a good chance to relax and make time for the things you love. For me, this means lots of peppermint tea and taking time to read every night before bed.
Stay productive – As important as it is to stay relaxed, it’s also important to keep up your productivity. Most of us are used to going to work outside the home each day, participating in clubs and attending social events. Being stuck at home can feel like a blessing to some but a curse to others. To stave off the cabin fever, find things to work on around your house or apartment. Perhaps there is a to-do list that you never seem to get to or areas of your home you’re able to put off cleaning week after week. For example, I’ve also been using the time I would normally spend on my commute to work to do more writing and accomplish less than desirable chores around the house. Use your extra time at home to tackle some of the things you’ve been putting off. You may be surprised by how fulfilled you feel after the fact.
Talk to someone – Whether it be your spouse, friend or family member, remember that we are all in this together and are probably all experiencing similar feelings. If your feelings of anxiety or depression become too overwhelming to handle, even with the help of your loved ones, reach out to a professional. That’s what they’re there for!
Bottom line: As you take care of your responsibilities and the health of your family members, remember to also take time to look after yourself. Don’t forget: we’re all in this together.
Stay safe and stay healthy my friends.