-How do we cope with the stress of a pandemic?

A pandemic such as the one we are living amidst today is a time of uncertainty and absolute chaos. Feeling stressed, suffocated and exhausted during such a situation is normal, but it can be highly taxing to go through each day feeling like that.

There are way too many factors that can contribute to stress- completely new lifestyles, temporary unemployment, home-schooling children, and most importantly, facing the risk of contracting a deadly virus every single day. From this alone, it is quite clear how easy it to feel lost and unbalanced against the universe. The necessity to pay attention to one’s mental health has now become more obvious than ever before.

So how does one cope with the emotional toll that the virus has taken on us? What can be done while we all wait for what is next and hope for this to end soon? Seeking therapy is always a good idea, but along with that, there are some things that we can personally do to stay calm during this time.

  1. Prepare a routine

Feeling lost and off-track is perfectly understandable. Go easy on yourself with a good routine which will make sure that you have something to do and help you stay occupied through the day. Make sure you include activities you enjoy in this routine, along with your daily work/school agendas. Incorporate workouts you can do within your home into your routine- meditation and yoga are mentally and physically invigorating when done regularly.

  1. Learn something new

Picking up a new hobby is a great way to be productive and make use of your day. Learning something new like an art form, a musical instrument, some old family recipes, science and history, et cetera are a great way to teach your mind to focus on something holistic. Various studies have proven that gardening and owning pets reduces stress and alleviates your mood, helping you fight anxiety and depression.

  1. Stay informed

Misinformation and the fear that comes with not understanding a situation can add greatly to your stress levels. The last year has been extremely uncertain, and this year seems to be no different. Making sure that we understand the actual situation is important to save us from worrying too much and for the wrong reasons. Staying informed too needs to have some limits. Checking updates too often can add to your anxiety. Make sure to step away from the news and the media each time you feel overwhelmed.

  1. Stick to what can be controlled

The world seems to be plummeting into rock bottom, but there is only so much we as individuals can do to protect the whole earth. The least we can do is protect ourselves and hope for the best. Keeping your mind on what you can control- like your routine, your health, your hobbies and habits, et cetera, can make you feel whole and happy and a lot calmer.

  1. Connect

This is a time of isolation, quarantine and social distancing. But we humans are social creatures and were never made to remain locked up and all alone. When physical interaction threatens death, we must find alternate ways to stay connected. Prioritize video-calling family and friends when face-to-face interactions are not possible. Spending some time on social media can also be useful, quite surprisingly. Social media can help you feel connected with the global community and remind you that you are not alone. But make sure you press pause on it if you being feeling anxious. Do not feel conflicted if you have to mute people who add to your anxiety- putting yourself first is not a bad thing here. 

  1. Rational positivity

A wave of negativity is engulfing all of us and it has become considerably difficult to look at the bright side. But being positive can have a huge impact on our mental as well as physical health, because after all, the mind is connected to the body. The novel Coronavirus has symptoms which can easily be mistaken for a pollen allergy, and vice versa. It is important to keep in mind that any fever, cold or cough does not necessarily mean that you have contracted the virus. Staying positive each day is absolutely necessary, even if you have Covid- because when the mind is healthy, the body functions better. Frontline workers during this hour of need should try to remain in a positive mental state. Given the immensely stressful tasks they carry out each day, maintaining mental wellbeing is crucial.

These are little things to help you stay mentally fit during tough times. If you feel too overwhelmed on a regular basis and nothing you do seems to be helping, what you are going through might be more than just stress. Reach out to a professional mental health expert if you are in crisis.

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