These days, most conversations seem to comprise of minute by minute updates of the Coronavirus. The word has inevitably stained our vocabulary at this point.
In a time like this, when an unexpected global pandemic suddenly affects various aspects of your life, it’s difficult to sit still. It’s difficult to not scroll further, and find out as much information as you can. Flights are being suspended. Cities are on lockdown. The stock market is experiencing turmoil. An individual just tested positive, and another soul became a dire statistic.
With the constant inflow of information, it’s easy for our brains to spiral and panic. There is so much we know, and yet, so much we don’t. The uncertainty of the situation has led some of us to be sucked into a vacuum of anxiety – and being in isolation where your thoughts can speak louder than words – it can feel awfully claustrophobic.
While it’s important to be socially responsible, whether that is maintaining social distance or following stay at home protocols – it is equally essential to be proactive in managing your mental health. If you’re experiencing anxiety that’s been heightened by the coronavirus, remember that it’s okay and you’re not alone.
In unprecedented situations like these, it can be almost cathartic to search for that silver lining.
Here are some things I’m doing to help ease my anxiety and remain grounded in the present. Self-care is definitely idiosyncratic, so what may work for me may not necessarily work for you.
- Indulge carefully
It’s incredibly important to stay aware, however, don’t let your overconsumption of news overwhelm you. If you find yourself constantly refreshing new sites or in a forwarding tournament to let your loved ones be in the know – then take a breather, and try to limit your readings to about half of what you may be doing now. Try to rely on trusted sources to gain the reassurance of the information you receive.
- Revamp your creativity
This is an excellent time to engage in all your favorite hobbies or gain some new ones! I used to love art growing up, however, lost in touch with my creative side as I grew older. At the beginning of this year, I began painting lessons and fell in love with art all over again. Now, I devote at least 20 minutes of my day to paint – simply so I can put my mind to ease, and give myself some alone time. It’s honestly one of my favorite destressers so far. So, explore your creative side! Cook, bake, paint or solve a puzzle if you need to!
- Spring clean!
If you’re back home with your parents or in your own apartment, take some time to de-clutter. I love organizing my space and getting rid of things I no longer need. As Marie Kondo says, discard everything that does not spark joy. So, tidy up! I love getting lost in my childhood possessions to discover things that I completely forgot about. It’s always a good reminder to reconnect with old friends or family and reminisce about the old times.
- Learn a new skill
We always complain about never having too much time to do things. However, now that most of us work or study from home, we have the flexibility of using our time the way we want to. So, try to take some time to pick up a new skill! I’ve been wanting to learn Spanish for ages. I think the language is so beautiful and has always stood out to me – but I never really got to learn it as I was ‘busy’. Now that I have time on my side, this is definitely a skill I’d love to have for the long haul. Whether it’s baking bread or learning a new instrument, try it out! I love putting my energy into new things that I know will distract me, and help reduce my anxiety.
- Practice Mindfulness
Whether that’s meditating, journaling or practicing gratitude, take time to let your mind unwind. It is a stressful time, and you need to help discipline yourself to reduce your anxiety levels. Breathe. I know it sounds like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised to see how unregulated our breathing patterns can be or how clenched your jaw is when you think you’re ‘relaxing’. There are some great guided meditation apps that can help you get more control over your anxiety. Two of my favorite ones are Headspace (paid) and Aura (free). If you’re not into meditating, take out at least 30 minutes of the day for yourself. Self-care in your favorite way – whether that’s reading or taking a walk, simply enjoy being alone for some time.
In a time of social isolation, it’s a perfect time to reconnect with people and fill in those missed conversation gaps that occur during the school year. I personally prefer video calling my friends to just texting as it is so much more wholesome. I always think it’s cute when people spend the first few seconds just smiling – it’s silly and just makes me plain happy. Being in different time zones where you can’t always see your friends, it’s nice to hear their voice and yes, those conversations are far better than the texts you’ll receive.
- Spend time with your family
Some of us have been away at university for long enough that we’ve almost forgotten our old routines. I understand the annoyance that most of us felt the first few days back – there’s a disruption in our routines, we don’t have that independence anymore, and oh my god, no one’s ever quiet during a zoom call. But, regardless of all of that, it still feels so good to be in the comforts of your own home, enjoying the company of your loved ones and being pampered with home food. It is a luxury. So, take this time to disconnect from the online world and spend more time with your family. Whether it’s messing around with your siblings or enjoying meals with the entire family, be present. Or, take the time to make new traditions!
Overall, this is a stressful time – so don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious. Remember to be kind to yourself. I know it provokes an eye roll when someone else says it, but it is important to practice self-care. Try to seek the silver lining from the coronavirus chaos. There are so many beautiful things that can stem during this time. Even if it’s walking away in a few months knowing you’ve gained a better relationship with yourself, you’re a winner! Take this time to be a student and develop new skills outside of the academic/workforce space.
At the same time, make sure to seek support from loved ones or professionals to help address any present concerns you may have. If your loved one seems to be experiencing anxiety, be supportive and connective. Avoid sending messages that might amplify their worries. This is an isolating time, so be there for one another. Be socially responsible, and take care of your health in general. Stay safe, and indoors as much as possible.