The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis is causing a lot of fear and anxiety for people in the world. According to the CDC, the stress of the outbreak can lead to irritability, anger, or frustration, and even physical problems like stomach pain, nausea, and headaches. To cope with the crisis and ensure your well-being, here are some suggestions.
Breathing exercises are a good way to help calm you down. Doing some simple exercises can make you feel better right away. Web MD offers instructions on how to do some simple breathing exercises.
Meditation is a simple, effective, and inexpensive way to give you a sense of peace, calm, and balance that can benefit both your emotional health and reduce stress. You can meditate anywhere. A popular form of meditation involves focusing your attention on a specific object, image, or just your breathing. The idea is to eliminate the stream of thoughts that have been overwhelming you. Find a quiet place to sit and meditate for 10-15 minutes. Commit to meditating a few times a week to make it routine. Try pairing meditation with everyday habits such as taking a shower or brushing your teeth to help you get used to doing it.
Being active increases your overall health, both physically and mentally. Exercise boosts your endorphins, which are your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Moving your body will help distract you from daily worries, improve your mood, and relax you. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise. In the crisis, it’s a little harder to do some of the physical activities you enjoyed before lock-down, but consider taking a walk, running, stretching, or climbing stairs in your apartment building or house. If you have exercise equipment, dust it off and make time to use it.
To stick with an exercise routine, think of exercising as a regular task on your to-do list. Any kind of movement can help increase your fitness and decrease your stress.
Expressing your feelings or thoughts through creativity can provide a good outlet for stress, and reduce anxiety and depression. Try drawing, painting, coloring, playing music, or making photo albums of trips you’ve been on, or even try learning how to cook new recipes.
Right now, the news and social media are all about COVID-19. While social media can help connect you to friends and family, and news can be informative, they both can be overwhelming and depressing. Try turning off social media and the news for a little while to give yourself a mental break. Switch off social media notifications on your phone and your laptop. You may also consider deleting the apps from your phone entirely. When you’ve unplugged, spend the time you’d normally use to post or tweet to relax and re-center. Try reading, exercising, or starting a new activity.
For many people, interacting with a pet is an amazing antidote to a stressful day. Pets are loyal and full of unconditional love so they help to reduce anxiety. Even brief encounters with animals can make us happy and relieve stress. Places like the San Diego Zoo are currently offering live streams of pandas, tigers, koalas, penguins, and other animals, so even if you don’t have a pet, you can watch our furry and feathered friends in action.
Spend some time getting lost in some music. Throw on your favorite albums or songs, or look for some new music to enjoy. Explore some music websites to find something new to stream. If the service offers options for you to support artists, consider donating. Try listening to soothing music to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Video games, puzzles, board games, or cards are all great ways to spend your free time. They will help keep your mind off bad news and help to keep your brain sharp. Plus, games are fun! There are many solo-games you can do and puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku help keep your mind occupied. You can also get creative! If you and a few friends have a board game or video game you like, trying playing it via video chat.
Just because you have to stay home doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your friends and family. Use video chat apps to schedule conversations, meetings, virtual happy hours, online movie nights, and parties. Or go old school and give someone you want to connect with a quick call on the phone. Other things like letters in the mail or just a simple check-in email are great as well. Seeing and talking to people can go a long way toward alleviating stress, boredom, and loneliness.