There is no question that this lockdown has taken a great toll on our countries’ people and on the experiences of our youth, so it is extremely imperative that everyone takes steps into understanding what is happening to them mentally and physically in order to better manage our mental health; and ultimately the long-term recovery as a nation. Not only has the economy taken a hit (which adds to the feeling of having a tenuous grip on society) but we are dealing with the unknown, unsure of when anything could be getting better. Since lockdown was first enforced, there have been many reports of increased feelings of depression, confusion, anger, and post-traumatic stress.
It is easy to understand that we may be feeling quite stuck and fearful of the future so now is the time to take a minute to breathe and come to terms with those emotions. Feelings out of sorts has become the new normal and it may even cause brain fog, making it harder to process what it is that you are experiencing. Here are a few pointers from someone who is used to having quality alone time and is handling the epidemic a little bit better than most at the moment. A phenomenon that is being attributed to the decrease of social anxiety and stress in people that hold onto high levels of internal pressure on a normal day to day basis.
Get in tune with your body.
If you are now working from home, or no longer working at all, use this time to set a day aside to fully take stock of what it is that your body needs. If you need more rest, schedule a time to be in bed by and stick to it daily. Need somebody to talk to in order to take things away from your mind? Set time aside in your week to see a professional, family member, or friend; Just talking can help ease your anxiety. Just feeling the need for a refresh? Create your own “at-home” spa and take a self-care day; whatever that means to you. Take notice of how you are doing at any given moment. Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, loosen your lower back by taking a stretch, drink enough water, and make sure you are distracting yourself from any irritations for even just 5 minutes.
Create a routine.
This may seem redundant as we have all the time in the world now it seems but it's all about your mindset. Creating a schedule for each day and writing up a list of to dos could greatly improve your mental health. Not only are you giving yourself a purpose but you are also creating ways to celebrate the small wins which releases serotonin into your brain. It generally makes you feel good to have something to commemorate and any small bit helps. Your overall long term goals will eventually become easier to focus on when you have some pep in your step.
Find a hobby.
Speaking of little distractions, finding a new hobby is a great way to be productive and wile the hours away. Bonus if it gets you thinking and isn't a straight forward activity. Try knitting a sweater instead of knitting a rectangle/scarf. Carve your own stamps to do some scrapbooking as opposed to just finding items ready made. "Doing it yourself", as they say, can be added to your to do list in order to get that sweet, sweet serotonin.
Take it one day at a time.
Life is pretty hard as it is without our brains being constantly wired to process new information these days like it's on life-support and needs to see everything before it fails; And they ARE wired that way. Technology is amazing but it has helped (or hurt) the way and the speed in which we go about our day to day activities. Deadlines and due dates add to the strain we are consistently under and it's no surprise that "stopping to smell the roses" is an essential part of your mental health. Focus on living from one moment to the next for a day. Finish one project at a time, COMPLETELY, before moving on to the next. Try not to worry about what it is you need to do IN the next day; that being different than worrying about the things you need to PREPARE for the next day. There is not much sense in worrying about things you have no control over in the moment. There are, most decidedly, things that could be left until they come up. Stressing will do no one any good, least of all you.
Be a open to a new experience.
If all else fails, stimulate all of your senses. Laugh randomly throughout your day. Sit down and eat or snack. Shop for a new soothing scent. Look up famous or viral art pieces/videos. Listen to music you used to listen to when you were younger and use a music program (like Spotify) to help you find new, similar sounding melodies. Set up a scavenger hunt with friends and look for objects that have different textures.
Don't forget to reach out to friends and family when you need an ear and don't think you are alone during this hard time. We are all in the same ocean with different boats in different conditions. It can be easy to lose sight of what's most important during quarantine but we can all help each other get through this relatively unscathed. The whole world is traversing into the unknown and none of us know how long it will take. Please take care of yourself and others, be compassionate, and be kind. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Here are a few websites to visit, and books to read on the subject that may help in grasping a better picture of the ever changing conditions and their effect on the human mind.
The Lockdown Paradox: why some people's anxiety is improving during the crisis. A short study.
The Anxiety First Aid kit: A quick-relief guide for calming anxiety and stress right now—during the COVID-19 pandemic (ebook)
How Not to Fall Apart shares the author's hard-won lessons about what helps and what hurts on the road to self-awareness and better mental health. This is a book about what it's like to live with anxiety and depression, panic attacks, self-harm and self-loathing (ebook)
Your personal mental health check-in for lockdown
Mental Health and Coping during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Strategies and more!
What are some things YOU DO to relieve your anxiety or help quiet the storms of your mind? Comment below with anything that helps you and might assist another!