During a pandemic there can be an increase in concern and worry over safety as well as how to handle one’s mental health. Uncertainty over job security, financial security, and overall safety can bring about a fear of the unknown. For those who already struggle with mental health issues or overall satisfaction in one’s life, these symptoms can increase when there is a pandemic. There is no blue-print for what to expect, however there are ways to cope with the possible stress,anxiety, or fear. Below are 10 coping skills that can be implemented to better assist with one handling a global pandemic.
Do not catastrophize
It is easy to panic and become overwhelmed with how to deal with a virus that is easily transmitted and contagious. It is important to focus on taking the proper precautions and following guidelines from the health department. Our brains are hard-wired with automatic negative thinking patterns. Instead of jumping directly into a worse case scenario, think about how you can do your part to keep yourself and your family safe.
In a moment where so many of our typical freedom’s are sacrificed during a global pandemic, focus on what you have rather than what you do not have. It is easy to be drawn into focusing on the numbers of virus cases and the people unfortunately losing their lives. While these numbers are important to stay aware of, find it in yourself to say five things that you are grateful for on a daily basis.
Develop a Positive Perspective
It is easy to look at the current situation that the world is in with social interaction being decreased, lack of ability to go out to eat, attend concerts, and sporting events and believe there is nothing to do or ways to have fun. This negative perspective will create an unnecessary barrier for oneself that could lead to depressive thoughts. There is always a way to make something out of nothing. Find ways to interact with your home environment that you may not have thought about before.
Find a hobby
For many people who are finding themselves having to spend more time at home and less time out with others engaging in social interactions, people are becoming bored with their circumstances. Having a hobby can be both a good way to pass the time as well as discover or re-discover a new passion. This could be something such as learning an instrument, creating art, recreational sporting activities that can be done using social distancing measures and virus precautions in mind. This use of a hobby can provide emotional stability as well as an outlet to process emotions that come up.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a huge uptake in online resources for exercise. Home work out options have increased as well as videos that provide education and information on exercise methods that can be done at home without the need for gym equipment typically found in a brick and morton gym location. Exercise is not only essential for the body but also the mind. Exercise can also include yoga. This practice of mindfulness can assist with re-focusing your attention and providing clarity with one’s thoughts. There are mindfulness based yoga practices that can help with anxiety, depression, and overall lack of emotional stability.
During a pandemic, it is easy to become isolative and not only physically social distance from others, but also fall into a pattern of disconnecting from others. Humans are social creatures and it is important for mental health purposes to retain social connections even if we cannot physically gather in groups at this time. Take into consideration other means of communication such as video-conferencing with friends and family. Set up game nights or events that can be completed through video conferencing methods to stay connected with others. Reach out to people that you have not spoken to in a while that maybe you have wanted to reconnect with. Check-in on your loved ones frequently to give you peace knowing that you are safe and they know that you are safe as well.
Routine is often talked about being vital for the healthy development of children. Routines are just as important for adults and even the slightest shift or change can cause anxiety for individuals, especially those who are prone to anxiety. Develop a schedule for yourself that is conducive to keeping your routine as close as possible to the routine that you had prior to COVID-19. Keep yourself on track with your daily schedule to try to focus on taking care of necessary tasks that arise throughout your day with as little interruption as possible.
Rediscover your inner child
With the current situation in the world, it is difficult for adults to engage in many of the typical interactions that one would due to the fear of COVID-19. Now is the perfect time to integrate activities that you enjoyed as a child to center yourself. This could include playing board games or video games that do not involve having to leave the house. If you have children engage in their play with toys to bring you back to the positive memories that you had as a child.
Follow Recommended Guidelines
There have been large outbreaks that have occurred throughout the world due to people not following safety guidelines such as gathering in large groups, not quarantining when asked to, and lack of wearing masks in public spaces. In order to provide an opportunity for your anxiety to not become increased, take into consideration what safety guidelines you are and are not following and take into consideration not only the effect that has on you but also others that come into contact with you. If you are following all recommendations, this should give you peace of mind knowing you are keeping yourself safe to the best of your ability.
Grounding is a technique that was developed to manage anxiety or worry over a situation before it even happens. Grounding is a technique often employed when someone is feeling an anxiety or panic attack coming on. Grounding can involve multiple different processes. An example of grounding could be when you find yourself starting to feel anxious developing an object, place, or thing that you can imagine the image of and it will bring you feelings of peace or calmness. This is where the act of thinking about your happy place comes from. Another form of grounding is placing yourself on solid ground and sitting in a position where you have control over your body and you have your feet flat on the ground and sitting up straight to feel connected to the earth below you.
These tips that have been provided above are a frame-work to help one manage their possible anxiety, depression, or fear over the current virus scare that has plagued most of the world for the last few months. One of the most important perspectives to hold onto while we fight this virus is remembering to stay positive even in the time that has become so negative for so many people. Stay vigilant in your handling of your emotions. If you are struggling, reach out and ask for help. There are resources in your community that are available to help you. One of the strongest things that anyone can do is after coming to the realization that they need help, is to not admit defeat but search for assistance.