I know. I’m anxious, too. I’m pretty sure we all hate this particular feeling. It gets in the way and steals our focus, but it also keeps us alive, so there’s that. Adapting to the ever-changing world is a common stressor for everything alive. Yet, as a species, we’re reluctant to change. Kicking and screaming is an apt description of how we collectively adapt to sudden change. 🤭
I don’t know why, but I figure there’s a reason related to our survival. Since we’re in the midst of a lifestyle change during the Covid-19 pandemic, I think many people are low-level freaking out because this is a new experience, and they don’t know what to do to get relief. (It’s such an awful feeling I want to gather you each in a just-right-tight hug, just for having to feel it.) 🤗
Here are some tips on how to cope during these uncertain times. (Source: The Savvy Psychologist podcast, episode 286.)
Do not dwell.
Limit time spent consuming news and information about the pandemic. Only use a few trusted sources. (CDC, your local health official website.) Constant data seeking can (and probably will) increase your anxiety. Ghost alarmist sources.
Maintain (or create) healthy activities. M.E.D.S. (Sorry.) 🙃
Maintain your circadian rhythm. Spend as much time in daylight as possible, even if just facing a window. Practice going to sleep and rising at roughly the same time each day.
Exercise. If you don’t have equipment in your home, here are some ideas: Walk around your home while listening to music, a podcast, or audio book. Plan a route and remove obstacles where necessary. Continue as appropriate for your fitness level, with a goal of 30 minutes per day minimum. Use online fitness classes and guides for strength training. Scrub your tub, etc.
(The audio helps distract your thoughts from looping around anxious topics. The repetitive motion is self-soothing.)
Develop a handwashing plan and stick with it forever. Each time I do this, I do my handwashing routine immediately after. If I’m at home, this is what I do. If I’m away from home, this is what I do. This is how I roll from now on. 👍🏽
Stay socially active. (There’s no need to isolate while you distance.) Finally, someone is telling you to spend time in your group chats. 🤭 Think of creative ways to stay connected with your friends and loved ones. Throw a Netflix Party. Use one of the gazillion apps that allow you to hang out with your tribe using tech instead of in person. (We’ve already been practicing for this lifestyle adaption for years, don’t you know.) 🤫
People with OCD and other mental health challenges might be having a rough time. Online support groups and remote therapy with services like Talkspace and Betterhelp are options. Sleep disturbances are also common during times of increased anxiety. I find listening to binaural beats to aid in sleep surprisingly helpful. Most music streaming services have them. (Here’s some on Spotify.)
I’ve been using binaural beats for years. Every other night, I listen to one created to encourage the habit of daily exercise. I originally purchased it at eBay on a CD, and have since uploaded it to the cloud for nightly streaming; it’s so effective. (Willpower for $9.99? Done.) It sounds like the sea to me. On other nights, I switch it up with versions for increased focus and theta waves. I play them on low volume while falling asleep.
As a damn near-agoraphobic who used to live under a rock, I’d like to share some of my favorite things to do to ward off cabin fever, (alone or with others.)
- Assemble a jigsaw puzzle while listening to a podcast or audiobook. (+10 mental engagement)
- Build a miniature city using Amazon boxes. (+10 creativity)
- Watch or record your kid, (self, partner, pet) stomping on Mini Cardboard City like Godzilla or something before recycling. (+10 social engagement)
- Color while listening to a podcast or audiobook. (+10 creativity +10 mental engagement)
- Learn a new skill with YouTube videos. (+10 mental engagement)
- Make music with whatever you have available. (+10 creativity)
- Start a parody journal documenting each day as if you’re writing to future aliens. (+10 creativity +10 mental engagement)
- Use your phone to make a mockumentary based on the journal. (ditto)
- Share your funny creations with your tribe and encourage them to do the same. (+10 creativity +10 social engagement)
- Imagine a product you wish existed, and create the commercial pretending to advertise it. Share it, encourage it. (ditto)
- Design and build a Rube Goldberg machine using stuff from around your home. Share it, encourage it. (ditto)
- Interview your pet and answer all the questions for them in a silly voice. (ditto)
- Practice your acceptance speech for whatever award you desire in front of a mirror. (Imagine all the people you want to be there, especially that asshat from Junior High who used to taunt you on the daily and go for it.) (+10 self-esteem)
- Compose letters to people who have touched your life in profound ways. Take your time and use a thesaurus. (+10 mental engagement)
It’s just as important to keep your mind active. Now you know some things you can do instead of stressing and obsessing. Anxiety is uncomfortable, but we can flourish despite it. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling out of sorts. We’re all experiencing this together, and we’ll get through it together, even while practicing distance. 💜✌🏽