As we enter week whatever-it-is of Covid-19 and social distancing, it’s natural to feel anxiety and stress when thinking about this global pandemic that has taken over many aspects of our normal everyday lives. There’s the obvious feelings of distress from worrying about our family, friends and our own health and safety. There’s anxiety from ensuring that our households are prepared with enough food and supplies to get us through the seemingly unending lockdown. For families who are quarantining together, it can be a strain on parents who have to juggle their children’s home-schooling schedules and entertaining them on top of working from home. For siblings or roommates, it can be the lack of time alone apart from one another that is causing tensions. And then there are those who are self-isolating who potentially face the greatest risk of becoming overwhelmed with stress and anxiety as they are without a physically present support system. As the saying goes “No man is an island” and many are finding that to ring particularly true during Covid-19 lockdown.
So how can we reduce stress during this time particularly if we are self-isolating? Below are just some suggestions and it goes without saying – it can be applied to all who are experiencing stress and anxiety during this time.
Maintain A “Normal” Routine As Much As Possible
Experts recommend trying to maintain as much of a “normal” routine as possible. That means, going to bed and waking around your usual time, showering, getting dressed – all the things you normally would do on a day to day if you weren’t stuck at home during Covid-19. While it’s totally tempting and easy to fall victim to staying in bed all day, lounging on the couch in your pajamas while binge-watching Netflix or letting your hygiene fall by the wayside – it’s best for both your physical and mental health to stick with somewhat of a schedule. That’s not to say you can’t have a day here and there to completely throw that schedule out of the window but try to limit that to 1 or 2 days a week – preferably on the weekends.
Try To Learn Something New
With all this extra time on your hands, it’s a good idea to stay busy and productive. I don’t know about you but prior to Covid-19, I always “didn’t have enough time” to do any of the things I wanted to do for myself. There was always work, a dinner or a social gathering that took up my time. I had a laundry list of things I wanted to try and learn that ranged from 3D printing to baking a soufflé but I just couldn’t find the time or energy to prioritize it. Learning something new helps to stimulate our mind and keeps it from becoming idle or bored. There’s a saying that goes “An idle mind is the devil’s playground” and when you’re bored for too long, the stress and anxiety can come creeping in without you even realizing it.
Socialize from a Distance
This is important for everyone but especially for those who are self-isolating. Staying connected with family and friends is a great way to reduce stress. As humans, we need to interact with one another – it’s how we are built. Even the most introverted person needs to socialize in some respect. So whether it’s a FaceTime or Skype call with your family a few times a week or a Google Hangout with some friends once a week, it’s important to take a moment to catch up, touchbase and socialize. Any stress or anxieties you’re feeling are probably universal and shared by others. It’s a small comfort to know that while you may be physically alone in your home, you’re not actually alone in how you feel.
Get Outside Every Day
As the weather warms up, it’s a great excuse to get outside for some fresh air and sunshine. Cities who have a shelter in place recognize the importance of getting outside for a bit each day as they ask their citizens to stay home unless running an essential errand or going outside for a break. Research even shows that Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard or patio, that’s a great way to get outdoors while staying safe. For those living in apartments without the luxury of an outdoor space, you can still go out for a walk or hop on a bike share to soak up some rays. Just make sure that you are wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others who are out and about as well.
It seems like a no-brainer but working out is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which interact with receptors in your brain, triggering feelings of positivity. And while screaming into a pillow might seem more up your alley, trust me when I say – the benefits of working out far outweighs that option. In addition to the endorphins and good vibes, working out consistently will put you on the path to better health which I think is fair to say – super important in these times. Prior to Covid-19, I never could find the time to work out and lose the pesky extra 10 lbs that have accompanied my mid-30’s but now there are no excuses. I for one, plan to make use of this time to come out of lockdown looking and feeling better than ever. Who knows? If you look and feel good, maybe next time there’s a lockdown, you won’t be self-isolating.
Check out bike shares and virtual workout classes on the LEON app.