As individuals, we all do best when we believe we know what to expect. Having a degree of predictability provides a sense of security, and right now many people are feeling a lack of both. It’s understandable to feel anxious about the unknown. Not only are many people afraid for their own, and their loved ones, physical health, other concerns are bubbling up. Some individuals are concerned about their jobs, and others are concerned about their, and their loved ones, mental and emotion health.
Here are some things we can do to limit and manage our stress and fear now and in the coming months.
Identify the things you can affect. It gives us a sense of security to know we have some amount of control over our lives. We are not helpless in this current outbreak. Remind yourself of all the things you can do to control your situation. This starts with all the basic hygiene practices you’ve heard a million times, but you can also control your social influence. Be a positive example by reminder others what they can do and finding creative ways to help others.
Start an emotional well-being practice. This could be a gratitude journal where you identify at least one thing you’re grateful for daily and reflect on what it means to you. Try a meditation practice; meditation can be as simple as getting comfortable, minimizing distractions such as screen, and focusing on your breath. Another form of meditation involves focusing on one thing such as a word that brings you peace. When your mind wonders don’t become overcritical, just bring it bring it back to your focus.
Continue to get outside, be active, and eat well. Nature exposure is very good for our emotional health. You can get a jump on spring yard work, take a walk around your neighborhood, or drive up a local canyon. There are many online resources for ideas to be active at home, and just doing household chores or projects is healthy movement. Also, know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.
Do what makes you feel safe. This is going to be different for each individual. Don’t feel guilty about cancelling in person plans.
Stay connected. Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Using video chats is a great way to stay connected. You can even try playing games over video chat with friends and family members. Or just pick up the phone and give your loved ones a call.
Limit stressful information. If you are beginning to feel more overwhelmed than reassured by the news, simply don’t turn it on for a day. Try reading a book, or picking up an old hobby instead. Better still, try out a new hobby!
Reach out. If you are feeling extremely anxious about the current situation or have feelings of depression while limiting your face-to-face interactions, reach out to a mental health professional for support. If you don’t have an established relationship with one, or are concerned about coverage or cost, there are resources out there. You can text TALK to 741741 to reach The Crisis Text Line or call 1.800.273.TALK to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Many states also have local lines set up.