9 Ways to Curb your Anxiety During Coronavirus [COVID-19] and Practice Self Care
Life as we know it has changed dramatically in 2020. Instead of planning holidays to exotic faraway destinations, gathering with family over Sunday brunch and getting together with friends in a cosy restaurant we are spending our time worrying about a viral pandemic that has entrapped the world. How we do everyday tasks and plan our lives has drastically changed. For most of us this is the biggest global incident we have lived through as we witness healthy people suddenly fighting for their health, financial distress and vast unemployment.
It’s an overwhelming and uncertain time.
A lot of cities around the world are on lock down with quarantine measures in place as well as health protocols such as wearing of masks and social distancing. This can mean simple things we took for granted such as going to the park with our kids, taking public transport, doing grocery shopping and meeting our family and friends have become either non-existent or restricted.
What does quarantine or self-isolation mean for you?
Your body is not as active as usual
Whether you’ve been working or studying from home, or not currently working, you haven’t been getting the incidental exercise you normally get from commuting and interacting with the world. And if you’re the kind of person who likes to be active at the gym or in group classes such as Yoga or Pilates, then this again has had to be on pause. All of this, on top of ‘social distancing’ and ‘quarantine’ measures results in a sense of isolation, anxiety and depression.
You may be making poor food decisions
Coronavirus-related concerns may affect dietary habits, leading to higher calorie consumption that could promote weight gain. Limited trips to the grocery store, skipping fresh fruits and vegetables in favour of stocking up on calorie-dense, non-perishable foods, and financial difficulties may cause people to opt for less expensive, ultra-processed food options. And all the extra hours you’re spending at home may make you more likely to snack, “stress-bake,” or prepare high-calorie, comfort-food meals.
You could be feeling stressed and anxious
Job loss and financial strain, social isolation and loneliness, close constant contact that may lead to arguments or abuse, stress of working from home while being responsible for childcare and home-schooling, and worrying about far away or elderly family members. It is no wonder there are reports of escalating mental health problems.
So here are our Coronavirus Tips on how to adjust to this ‘new normal’
Until a vaccine can be safely introduced, we must accept and come to terms with the new reality. But it’s not good enough to just accept and live in a tepid mediocre way. We need to figure out ways to stay positive, enriched and inspired. Most importantly we need to take care of ourselves so our bodies and mind are strong and able to tackle the daily challenges, restrictions and frustrations we are faced with.
Here we have some easy strategies you can implement in your everyday life whilst we spend more time at home.
1. Don’t be a Hero
It’s not realistic to think you can do it all- home school your kids, work full-time from home, maintain a perfect (clean, orderly) household and take care of yourself and others.
Instead, try prioritizing one or two things, and let the others slide a little. Leave the teaching to the teachers and focus on parenting. Take time out for self-care. Remind yourself not to worry if you let the laundry and dishes pile up for a while or the kids get a little extra screen time. You’ll get to it all when you can.
Now this is a big one – try not to compare yourself to people who you think are ‘handling it better than me”. Everyone is different, so be gentle and loving with yourself. Remember we are going through a global pandemic and this is not likely to be the most productive time of your life. It is normal to feel confused, unsure, foggy, tired, and over it all.
2. Take the positives from the situation
Can you go out for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine? Then do that every day. If your kids are around more now without school and other activities, embrace it and enjoy the extra family time by cooking together or settling in for a game’s night. If your partner is usually away travelling for work then use this time to re-connect and slow down together. Snuggle on the couch with a Netflix marathon or grab a bottle of wine over a puzzle. Sleep-deprived? Well this is a great opportunity to get some much-needed rest as there are many amazing benefits to sleep.
3. Move your body
Physical activity helps our body and mind in many ways-
- Exercise releases chemicals in your brain, like serotonin and endorphins, which are great for your mood
- It can also lead to better sleep and give you more energy
- Physical movements can help ease tightness in your shoulders and neck, which often come with stress and anxiety
- You have a sense of achievement
- Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of serious health issues
- Regular physical activity is great for your immune system and weight loss.
If exercise is new to you then take it easy and start slow. Yoga is the perfect introduction to getting your body moving without putting pressure on joints. If you can’t get to a Yoga studio there are plenty of online classes for a range of experience levels. Yoga with Adriene is a well loved yoga library with over 6 million subscribers. She’s fun and down to earth and offers classes from 5-60 minutes and here you can find something for beginners to get you started.
It’s uncertain times and you may feel uneasy about returning to normal life including your routine Yoga or Pilates classes. It was noted in a study performed in South Korea that the Coronavirus infection happened in classes that lasted for 50 minutes and involved 5-22 people exercising vigorously in a room measuring about 645 square feet. But no cases emerged from classes that had fewer than 5 participants or from Yoga and Pilates classes which are less intense.
So for those who are able to attend Yoga classes take precautions such as
- Enquiring beforehand on the class size (< 5 participants)
- Attend an outdoor class if possible
- Remain socially distant
- Bring your own mat
- Sanitize any equipment used before and after every use.
4. Be Zen
Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, inflammation and increase self-awareness and is a wonderful way to self-regulate.
When we’re stressed about something, our thoughts tend to speed up. Taking just 10 minutes to practice mindfulness can help produce a sense of calmness.
Here are some suggestions for mindfulness apps to try:
- Insight Timer has over 25,000 free guided meditations, from 1 to 90+ minutes. Try searching by a topic that interests you (e.g. stress, learning to meditate, sleep).
- Calm is a go to mindfulness app with more than 50 million downloads and a 4.8 star rating. It takes a relaxed approach for users to ease into meditative practices at their own pace, with auditory bedtime stories as well as relaxing audio to help establish mental guided imagery to help users remove themselves from their current surroundings.
- If meditation isn’t for you, try doing an everyday activity in a mindful way – in other words, put aside distractions and focus fully on one small task. For example, while you’re having a cup of tea, pay attention to your senses (the smell of the tea, the warmth of the cup in your hand, the taste…).
5. Fuel your body with good energy
Did you just stock up your cupboard with baked beans and pasta sauce? Ingredients may not be as readily available but fresh produce is still accessible and there is no reason to think we have to live off rationed supplies. Buy in bulk at your weekly shop and freeze meat and vegetables.
Not an experienced chef? You could ask a friend or family member for their favorite recipe (also a great way to connect with others), or take the time you never had to research new recipes. There are many simple ways to make your diet healthier
Drink water. I know you’ve heard it before but it is so true! One surprising benefit is weight loss. Not only does water have zero calories; it can increase your metabolism (the amount of calories you burn while resting) and quench your thirst. Drinking water before meals can also reduce your appetite and help you consume fewer calories during the day.
If you’re feeling bored of water add a few slices of fruit or herbs for flavour and experiment with making fresh juices. Juices are a fantastic way to detox the body
6. Stay Connected
It’s easy to become socially isolated when we are advised to keep away from others, especially for those who live alone. Make a special effort to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues though email, FaceTime, Whatsapp and phone calls. Have Zoom parties and catch up on a regular basis. Make sure the people you connect with give you the warm fuzzies and don’t set you back thinking you’re not coping well enough.
7. Take a break from social media
Is your phone pinging off the hook from friends forwarding articles on health scare information or escalating fear in food shortage, health care or quarantine rules? Between the news and social media, we’re all feeling saturated by coronavirus updates right now. It’s important to stay informed, but try to limit your media intake to a couple of times a day and use trusted news sources.
Does your Instagram feed make you feel inadequate as everyone is beautifully baking, crafting, holidaying? Social media posts can also set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. “These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude.”
Try cutting down on the social media scrolling to 30 minutes a day.
8. Don’t get complacent
Feeling like you’re slowly turning into Chewbacca? Soak in a long bath, take the time to groom yourself and jump online for some retail therapy. Don’t use the excuse that you aren’t seeing anyone to not take care of yourself. Feeling good about how you look is important to our self-esteem and general wellbeing. It’s not something we do to please others.
Keep to your usual routines as much as possible- don’t be tempted to sleep in until noon, keep up your usual meal times and break up your day with human connection as you usually would (albeit over the phone).
9. Look Ahead and take note of what COVID-19 has taught you
We can learn a lot from slowing down and taking care of one another. Once this passes, take the opportunity to carefully consider what you really want to add back into your life. Did you re-connect with certain people and others not so much? Did you pick up new hobbies and interests, or start to realize ways to work better in your job?
As life starts to open up, put something in the diary like a Wellness Retreat, massage, body or hair treatment so you have something to look forward to. Of course, continue to take precautions, but know that in order for businesses to operate, they are mandated to follow strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the public’s health.
Self-care is more important than ever and it’s a great time to re-assess, learn new things and re-connect. When COVID-19 will end, we will maybe realize this slower pace isn’t such a bad thing after all.