21 April 2020
Managing Stress & Anxiety While At Home For A Long Period Of Time
As the country takes action to combat the rapid spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic, your current living space might be getting a bit too comfortable. There are different restrictions in place depending on where you live & from my understanding most of us are at the point where we can go out to buy groceries & essential supplies but other than that we're residing at home where we need to stay for our own safety & for the safety of others.
No matter what your situation is, whether is you're working remotely, out of work because of the current circumstances, trying to pass the time with children or attempting to home school your children - being at home can feel isolating especially when we can't get 'out'. This is completely normal, feeling anxious & stressed is okay. This gist of it is that your regular routine has most likely been disrupted. Plus, this unprecedented time can be extra stressful.
You might not be as involved in activities that are meaningful to you & you may not have as much social engagement as you would in your normal day to day life. For some people, there may be a significant financial strain if they're not able to work during this time & they may not be able to access the kinds of things they do to cope like working out, going to the gym or attending religious services. All of this, can affect your mental health.
There are a lot of things that individuals can do to offset the experience of feeling isolated. Everyone can feel the effects of isolation but those that already have mental illness, isolation can add a significant stressor to what you're already dealing with.
With that being said I did a little bit a research about the best ways of dealing with isolation & what we can do to assist our mental health. Along with the research, this information also comes from previous experiences of my own. There have been other times in my life where for whatever reason I've either felt isolated or have been physically isolated, they're not the best of experiences but through each experience I've learnt more & more.
Keep A Routine
You all know how much of a routine gal I am. Generally, if you're used to have a structured schedule, it may be hard to cope with the fact that you no longer have that same routine. Finding things & setting up a structure around the things that keep you going is really important. This could be some kind of physical activity, a regular sleep schedule, good nutrition & social support. When it comes to my mental health, having a schedule helps manage all the different symptoms. Staying home during this time can make things even more difficult so I really do recommend trying your best to sustain a schedule despite the circumstances.
Stay Connected With Family & Friends
Highly recommend taking advantage to technology during this time. Even if you're practicing physical-distancing from your peers or even if you're in lockdown, that doesn't mean it has to be actual social-distancing too. Set up a coffee date with your friends via Skype or FaceTime. Reach out to family & friends. Find ways to stay connected to the world & your loved ones. I came across the term 'physical-distancing' while doing a bit of research & it's something mental health officials are trying to use more because you're still able to have a social life, just not in the traditional sense which I thought was interesting.
Support Your Community
When we remember that we're all in this together & that we're doing this for an important reason, trying to reduce the overall community risk, that does help us to feel better about the situation. One of my goals for 2020 was to support smaller businesses more & I think they need out support now more than ever. In New Zealand, we're currently in a national lockdown but I already have a bunch of my favourite smaller businesses that I'll be buying from once things calm down a bit. You can also donate to local organisations that are providing support for those who are struggling through this time or you could go grocery shopping for a neighbour who shouldn't be going out. I know that when doing these kinds of things, it helps us feel like we're making a positive difference & that can really impact our mental health too.
These times are stressful & worrying for all of us & I think my biggest piece of advice when it comes down to it is, be kind & stay safe. We're in this together.