The impact COVID-19 has had on each of our lives can be described as both unique and difficult. For some, it meant transitioning from working at the office to working from home. For others, it meant adapting to at-home learning with virtual classes, or business compliance with evolving health mandates.
These abrupt changes to the way we work, live, and interact with each other are proving to have a negative impact on the mental health of every age group. As scientists track a surge in depression and anxiety related to the pandemic, we are forced to find new and different ways to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Here Are Three Ways To Cope With COVID-Related Stress And Anxiety:
Establish A Routine
It is easy to underestimate the power of a healthy routine. The fact is, our brain is comforted by familiarity and motivated by progress and achievement. A routine helps set those goals and minimize uncertainty that otherwise engages the fight or flight response. It helps conserve energy so that we have more mental strength for executive functions such as social intuition, emotional control, and abstract thinking.
A new routine can start with something as simple as adding a short walk in your schedule. It may include a healthier breakfast, morning yoga, or afternoon meditation. However, don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. If you enjoy painting, paint every day. If you enjoy stand-up comedy, watch ten minutes of stand-up comedy each day.
The goal is to reconfigure your schedule to include more of what you enjoy and less of what will lead to unhealthy outcomes.
Cut The Cord
Non-stop news cycles, social media feeds, and sensationalistic headlines are very effective in grabbing our attention and keeping it. Their purpose is to get you emotionally invested in the topic and keep watching, keep clicking, keep engaging. This can quickly become an unhealthy obsession to stay informed, connected, or simply entertained.
Turn off the news for a few days. Delete the social media apps on your phone. Remove the temptation to use these outlets as a way to fill your time and let your brain rest. There is a restorative value in not occupying your brain in every moment of every day. Resist the urge to fill in the white space.
There has been plenty of polarization, misinformation, and debate over COVID-19 and the safety precautions we should take. It is a constantly evolving discussion that may create more tension and anxiety with someone who has an opposing viewpoint. Consider limiting these discussions to those who can be respectful of your beliefs and add value to the conversation.
Do what feels right for you while respecting the rights of others and keeping the CDC guidelines for COVID in mind. Do not feel pressured to join large groups or family gatherings if you do not feel comfortable or safe. Define the boundaries you are comfortable with and live within them whenever possible.
Speak With A Professional
It’s important to remember that the pandemic will end at some point, and life will again be less anxiety-provoking. In the meantime, it’s important to do what you can to adjust to our current conditions. For more ways to cope with COVID-related stress and anxiety, schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professionals.