As humans, we don’t like uncertainty and it’s hard to deal with stress and anxiety. One of the main factors that make the current pandemic situation so stressful is the amount of uncertainty. The ‘enemy’ is invisible.
We don’t know when we can go back to our ‘normal’ lives, we don’t know if we ever can go back to what we thought was normal, we don’t know how much worse it will get, and we don’t know when we can hug loved ones again.
All these unknown factors have a certain impact on a lot of people and it’s okay to feel worried and anxious. However, try not to let it overtake your day-to-day life and affect your regular functioning.
What will help you with these kinds of feelings is to look at what you CAN control versus what you CAN’T control.
There are large factors in this pandemic that we can’t control; for example, the global spread of the virus, the economy, government responses and what other people do or don’t do.
These topics worry many people, but they are out of our control. You can give away some of the stress and responsibility by letting go of things that are not in your control. Instead, focus on the things that you can control.
We can, to some extent, control what goes into our body and mind and how we behave.
It is in our control to:
– practice good hygiene
– stay home to curb the spread of the virus
– control what we consume – whether it’s food or news
– care for ourselves and others
– influence our thoughts and actions
Knowing that you are doing what you can, what’s within your control, may help you release some of the stress that you have during this pandemic.
There are some other strategies to help you deal with stress and anxiety during uncertain times, here are 7 ways.
1. Keep a routine and your day-to-day activities as much as possible
Humans are creatures of habits and routines. Habits and routines remove a lot of choices that we would otherwise have to make over and over again and are a way to deal with stress and anxiety.
With the stay at home orders in many countries, many of our activities have moved to our homes: jobs, working out, cooking instead of eating out, and more.
Try to keep your usual activities as much as possible. If you were working out a lot before, you could continue doing that at home.
Many of the habits and routines you had before have now been shaken up. Create new habits and routines for yourself that accommodate your new situation.
2. Acknowledge your feelings, such as stress and anxiety
I’m glad to see that more and more people are open about their mental health, especially online and on social media.
These uncertain times bring a lot of stress, worries and anxiety. And we’re all in it together, which makes it more than okay to have these kinds of feelings.
It’s also more than okay to talk about these feelings with others. Most likely, they are going through similar emotions and feelings.
You should definitely not deny your feelings, as this will only make it worse. You will build up that negativity.
Check in with yourself regularly. Evaluate how you’re feeling. Am I stressed, or my partner, or perhaps kids? Be aware of your feelings and thoughts.
3. Take care of your physical health
Your mind and body are interconnected. Whatever you put in your body and how you move it, affects your mindset too.
So don’t neglect your physical health, as this will impact how you’re feeling. Movement can help you deal with stress and anxiety.
You can get your body moving, for example, by:
– Taking walks (maintaining social distancing rules of course)
– Going for a jog/run
– Doing yoga, pilates or stretching exercises
– Working out at home
– Rope jumping
There are many videos online that show you how to do workouts at home.
Other tips to take care of yourself physically, are to get enough rest, exercise regularly, drink enough water and eat healthily.
If you find it hard to make healthy dinners, meal planning might be the solution for you. You can start meal planning in 3 easy steps.
If you’re looking for inspiration for healthy and easy dinner recipes, get my list of 40 recipe ideas via the form below!
4. Stay socially connected
Social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnecting.
Remain in touch with your family, friends and colleagues while you’re at home. Luckily, we live in a day and age where it’s pretty easy to ‘see’ each other via video calls.
Besides regular chatting, I’ve heard of people doing game nights via video calls, having dinner together, holding pub quizzes, working out together and more!
Humans are social beings and we need to stay in touch with other humans to keep sane. When you’re home, you’re having fewer interactions with other people. Making an effort to reach out to others and being social will help you remain a sense of normal.
5. Make time for simple, relaxing activities that YOU enjoy
Most of us have more time on our hands than before, which is perfect for spending time on doing things that YOU like.
Perhaps there is a hobby that you never had time for or activity that you’ve always wanted to try: be kind to yourself and start making time for it now. Everyone deserves to spend time doing something you like, especially right now.
Whatever activity it is that you like, intentionally set aside some time for it during the week.
6. Contribute by donating or volunteering
You could have negative feelings around the pandemic, because of feeling powerless or hopeless.
But you can contribute to efforts of finding a cure and helping others by making donations or volunteering at local charities and organizations.
Every little bit helps and it may give you peace of mind that you are taking part in supporting people in need and scientific research.
You can donate to the global fund of the World Health Organization (WHO) or look for local funds in your home country.
Plenty of volunteering opportunities have been set up during this crisis, which is great to see! Find out which initiatives are around you by looking on Facebook, asking friends and family and Google.
7. Set limits around news and social media to deal with stress and anxiety
I believe this is a good one to incorporate forever, not only during the pandemic. External factors such as the news and social media have a huge impact on how you feel. For social media, it’s actually known that it impacts your mental health in several ways.
Avoid checking the news and social media right after you wake up, or actually in the first hour of your day. The first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of the day.
If you fill it with news or posts that give you anxiety, stress or any other bad feelings, this will linger on the rest of the day.
You can be more intentional with your news and social media consumption by setting 1-3 moments in the day that you allow yourself to browse. But also limit your browsing time. Set a timer or use apps that remind you to stop after say 15 minutes.
Besides your first hour, also avoid the news and social media in the last hour before you go to bed.
Let’s get started to deal with stress and anxiety
The main takeaway from this post is for you to know there are things within your control that you can take care of, and that are issues out of your control. Try to let go of feeling responsible or stressed about things that you can’t control.
The 7 ways to take care of yourself and deal with stress and anxiety during this pandemic are:
- keeping a routine and habits
- acknowledging your feelings
- taking care of your physical health
- staying socially connected
- making time for relaxing activities you enjoy
- contributing by donations or volunteering
- setting limits around social media and the news
I wish you all strength and I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy!