It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious or depressed during a public health crisis. Here are some tips for maintaining your mental health and emotional well-being throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has significantly changed the lives and daily habits of billions of people around the world. We find ourselves looking for ways to cope with the stress, anxiety, boredom or depression that coincide with social distancing and sheltering in place.
Just because we are staying home doesn’t mean we need to depend on Netflix alone for comfort and entertainment. Many of the things we do out in the world can still be done from the comfort of home using the devices we already depend on day-to-day.
With most of us feeling the impact of COVID-19 in our work schedules and daily routines, it is so important to take care of ourselves during these uncertain times. Here are a few simple tips on staying centered (and sane) throughout the coronavirus chaos.
Try mindful meditation
Mindful meditation involves using breathing or other techniques to bring deliberate (but nonjudgmental) attention to the thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations of the present moment. With regular practice, people become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge our everyday experiences and respond with negative, unhelpful patterns of thinking. Combining awareness with acceptance of experiences provides a wider, calmer perspective on stressful situations and helps squash negative emotions before they can take hold.
Do relaxing exercises
Gentle exercises such as yoga and tai chi emphasize strength, flexibility and body awareness — all of which make for healthier posture and balance, while simultaneously improving sleep and reducing stress and anxiety. In a study conducted by the Yoga Biomedical Trust in London, 94 percent of participants saw a reduction in anxiety after performing yoga each morning, and 82 percent said it helped with their insomnia.
Volunteer from home
Helping others in need can be one of the most rewarding ways to reduce stress. Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, has launched a series of opportunities for people to volunteer without leaving their homes. Examples include connecting with isolated seniors through shared interests such as music and art, and a crisis text line that offers text-based counseling to help combat coronavirus-related stress.
Give social gaming a spin
Even if you aren’t a “gamer” or caught up on the latest online gaming trends like Animal Crossing, Fortnite or Pokemon Go, there are tons of traditional board games like Scrabble and poker you can play online, along with world-creating adventure games and drawing games similar to Pictionary. With many of these games, you can either play solo, with friends and family, or pair up with strangers.
Join Team Grant
Team Grant is free online fitness network created by the Brian Grant Foundation to unite people with Parkinson’s and their supporters from around the world through exercise. Our easy-to-use online tool allows people with Parkinson’s disease and their supporters to set fitness goals, track their exercise activities and earn badges for working out. You can also integrate your Team Grant fitness activity with a Fitbit wearable device. Visit team-grant.briangrant.org to sign up!
Seek help if you need it
The Disaster Distress Helpline is a toll-free, multilingual, 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline that provides immediate crisis counseling for people in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to traumatic events and incidents of community unrest including infectious disease outbreaks. Call 1.800.985.5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious or depressed during these trying times, especially since we are limited on what we can do, where we can go and who we can see. It helps to remember that just because we are staying at home right now doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected and stay active during the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have – toilet paper, for instance, what gives?! – maybe we should also take this time to focus on self-care and gratitude for everything we do have. Having the rare opportunity to slow down, breathe and look inward might just be a small silver lining to this public health crisis.