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Manage Stress While You’re Social Distancing

24 August 2020

If your anxiety surrounding COVID-19 is beginning to take a toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. Read on for advice on how to cope.

Stress is usually experienced in reaction to challenging or demanding situations. It’s possible that the COVID-19 crisis has drastically interrupted your regular routine, but you can manage your and your loved ones’ anxiety.

Stay Connected

For many of us, isolating and social distancing has become the norm, and this can add to feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Consider the following if you’re finding it challenging to deal with your current circumstances:

  • Prioritise staying in touch with your loved ones. If you’re alone while isolating, call your friends and family, or use apps such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Houseparty to stay connected.
  • Choose video calls over phone calls. Face-to-face contact is vital for maintaining your mental health and it helps to reduce the risk of feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Schedule regular online dates with friends and family as you normally would in person. You can cook a meal together over Skype or Zoom, then enjoy a bit of conversation at the dinner table in your respective homes.
  • Use social media to update your social circle on life under lockdown or in isolation. Send videos and voice notes, or create TikTok-inspired video clips of your own. This will help remind you that you’re not alone.

Pay It Forward

Feeling anxious often stems from feeling powerless. Although you may not be at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight in the way healthcare workers are, there are ways in which you can give back. What’s more, helping others can boost your mental health.

  • Stay home. Remember that you are preventing the spread of the virus by placing a physical distance of 1 – 2m between yourself and others. Stick to the guidelines that have been provided by the World Health Organization and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. If you experience symptoms, such as a high fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing, self-isolate for at least 2 weeks. Download the Life Healthcare symptom-checker app for Android or iPhone to understand COVID-19 infection risk factors, and find out if you may require testing.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to sanitise your hands and surfaces regularly, especially if you use shared spaces and equipment.
  • Check on your neighbours. Give your neighbours a call and find out if they need help getting groceries or a prescription, particularly those who live alone and who are elderly. You can leave packages on their doorstep to avoid direct contact.
  • If you can afford to, make donations online to local charities or low-income families. You can do this in food or cash.
  • Don’t panic buy and hoard groceries that you don’t need. Doing this leaves supermarket shelves empty. This affects low-income earners who can’t afford to buy in bulk.
  • Resist the urge to share negative news, for instance the number of deaths or infections. Share positive news instead, such as the number of recoveries or good news stories about things that have happened in your neighbourhood or around the world.

Practise Self-care

When you are stressed, practising self-care can help you cope more easily. Consider the following the next time you feel overwhelmed:

  • Workout in your lounge, bedroom or backyard by following an online fitness channel on YouTube such as Fitness Blender or using apps such as Aaptiv. Continue practising yoga if it’s part of your regular routine, or find a beginner’s online class such as Yoga with Adriene if you’d like to start. Yoga encompasses both stretching and physical movement, which helps release stress. Alternatively, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you let go of pent-up frustration.
  • Go outside. According to research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, spending time outside in nature has positive effects on mental health and could help to calm anxious feelings. If you live alone, have your breakfast or lunch in your backyard or front porch, or read a book outside. If you live with family, have a meal together or play a game outside.
  • Practise calming exercises such as meditation and intentional deep breathing. Harvard Medical School explains that breath focus is commonly used to ease mental stress and evoke relaxation responses.
  • Minimise reading, listening and watching news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious. Only check updates once or twice a day and get information from trusted sources such as the World Health Organization.
  • If you’re working remotely, create clear boundaries between your personal and professional life to prevent work-from-home burnout. Transition from work to home every day by following the same routine you would if you were physically going to work. Get dressed, work in a designated space and follow set working hours if possible. Focus on your most important tasks during your highly productive hours and take a proper lunch break as you would at the office. Moreover, use your weekends to get quality rest by reading a good book, watching movies you enjoy and spending time with your family.

This article is published courtesy of CareWays.

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