The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for a lot of people. From skyrocketing unemployment rates to social isolation, the effects of the nationwide lockdown have stirred fear and anxiety among adults and children.
Humans thrive in routines, and this pandemic has been one of the greatest interruptions to our routines in recent history. It disrupted our sense of control and normalcy, and as a result, stress levels are rising. If you’re feeling more panicked and wound up than ever, you’re not alone.
Stress is key to survival, but too much of it can be harmful. It weakens the immune system and can lead to fatigue, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even aggravate thyroid problems. Nothing good comes out of it, and at a time when stressors are unyielding and ruthless, you must learn how to keep your responses under control.
Here are some ways to manage stress amidst the pandemic:
Bring back the routine
Instead of dwelling on what you can’t control, focus on the things that you can. One way is to create a morning routine. You’re stuck at home. You can’t do the things you normally do. Your routine has been disrupted.
Start a new one. Do something productive early in the day. Exercise. Meditate. Shower. Tidy up your room and have a healthy breakfast. Simple things can bring back the sense of normalcy your mind and body are craving.
Maintain communication with your loved ones
Now that you can’t physically be with your loved ones, it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with family and friends via text or call.
Think about ways to help other people
Having purpose amidst stressful, uncertain times is one way to stay sane and grounded. Take away some of the pressure by being of service to others. This can mean picking up groceries for your neighbor or donating to a local charity. Anything to take the focus off yourself and enhance your sense of well-being.
Practicing self-care is one way to maintain a daily routine. Self-care can come in the form of reading, cooking, meditating, gardening, doing art, taking a warm bath. Try to stick to an activity and do it at the same time every day. This will anchor your day and give you the mental break you need.
Staying away from your newsfeeds and limiting your media consumption is one way to put your mind to rest. Hearing bad news triggers our sympathetic nervous system, which activates our fight-or-flight mode. Check the news twice a day at most, and don’t start with it. Turn off your notifications.
Meditation can be an antidote to fear and anxiety by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. The goal of meditation is to keep you grounded and centered while helping you regain your sense of control. It helps you pay attention to each breath. Or focus on a positive thought. In effect, you create a calm, stress-free surrounding.
Remember that as with all things, this pandemic, too, shall pass. The challenges we’re facing are stress-inducing, but if we focus on the things within our control and do things that are good for our health, we will come out of this sane and alive. Or even as better versions of ourselves.