When our health and sources of income are threatened, stress and anxiety can feel like the new normal. We wake up to an endless battle every day—a battle to stay safe from the highly contagious Covid-19, a battle to keep our homes stocked with food in the midst of the pandemic, a battle to find the right strategies to keep our businesses afloat. It’s almost impossible not to focus on the uncertain future, and that’s left many of us scared, frustrated, and feeling anxious.
Though it might appear impossible to shake off stress and anxiety at the moment, experts argue that it is in fact possible for the human mind to learn the resilience needed to soldier through the pandemic and its economic effects. According to Shevaun D. Neupert, Ph.D., a psychology professor at North Carolina State University, people need to think slightly outside the box in order to alleviate stress during the ongoing quarantine. The reason is life as we know it has been disrupted, so the stress-coping strategies that worked before coronavirus might now be obsolete.
With that in mind, below are four ways that can help you feel less stressed during these times.
1. Embrace the change
Grocery shopping has been turned into a difficult, stressful, and sometimes traumatic experience. Don’t allow this change to disorient your mind. Accept that grocery shopping is no longer the ordinary errand you used to run by yourself after work. Instead, embrace online grocery shopping. Take time out from your workday or after your workday and shop online.
Also, instead of freaking out because you can’t cook and restaurants have closed down, why don’t you teach yourself how to prepare simple freezer meals through online tutorials? That means you won’t have to cook every day, leaving you more time in your workday. And you won’t overstretch your budget with online food delivery services, especially now that you aren’t sure of your financial future.
It’s important to understand that we’re all dealing with these changes together. No one has any tried-and-approved techniques of coping with the change, so you shouldn’t carry the burden silently. Join different communities online and try to figure out solutions together.
Maintaining a stable exercise routine during your workweek has worked before to calm your troubled mind; it will work again this time. Exercising will help keep you away from the stressful news headlines and help you stick to a healthy work-from-home routine. Working out daily helps you maintain a sense of normalcy to your schedule at a time when everything feels uncertain.
At a scientific level, exercise has been proven to facilitate the release of endorphins in the human brain. Endorphins are directly linked to increasing a person’s sense of well-being, boosting mood and neutralizing stress hormones. These benefits are needed now more than ever because stress levels are building up unprecedentedly fast.
Because there are many exercises that can be done at home, including some that don’t require you to have any exercise equipment, there is no reason why you shouldn’t add a good workout to your daily routine. You can even acquire a few motorized bicycles for you and your family members. These bikes are great because they will give you a full-body workout, get your heart pumping, and get you sweating without stressing your knee joints.
3. Avoid the chaos
Stop obsessing over endless coronavirus coverage. Switch off your TV and stop over-researching the pandemic online. All you need to know about this virus is how to protect yourself and the people you love. The scary statistics and daily updates aren’t necessary, especially if you struggle with anxiety. If you must research, ensure that you get all your information only from credible organizations, such as the CDC and WHO.
Avoiding chaos also means keeping your home organized and clean. Take this quarantine period to declutter your home and your life. Attend to your indoor plants, for example, to make your living spaces livelier. Take better care of your pets and your loved ones now that you have the time. Use your time to improve your living condition.
You’ll also reduce your stress levels by trying to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Try not to eat in bed, for example. Instead, eat at the kitchen table or the dining area as you do on normal days. And instead of working from the sofa while wearing pajamas, work at your desk or home office and be sure to wear pants. Loosening your normal routine can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
4. Look to a positive future
One thing is certain: the coronavirus pandemic will eventually end. No one knows when, but it will end. Take your imagination to places where you can’t go because of the lockdown. Project your mind to the future—a future where you will party, travel, work, make a better life for yourself. Learn a language or new skill. Take an online course. Make note of all things you’ll do when quarantine is over, not all the things you can’t do now.
Don’t let this indefinite isolation dim your spirits. Don’t allow information overload to trouble your mind. Fight against the spiraling negative thoughts that coronavirus uncertainty has precipitated. In doing so, you’ll find yourself feeling much more calm and much less stressed.
Melissa Bethany enjoys exercising and taking care of her body. Her hobbies include biking and cycling, and her favorite things to do are reading and writing.