2020 has brought on what is perhaps the most unsettling time we've had to face together as a global community in modern times. COVID-19 has meant shutdowns around the world, coupled with job losses, economic uncertainty and health worries that are plaguing everyone. If you’re feeling unsettled by this, or perhaps over the last few days you can feel yourself slipping more and more into a state of heightened stress as a result of this, there are some things you can do to help yourself gently navigate back to equilibrium, or as close as possible to it. First things first: You are not alone in this. Here are a few ways that can help to ease things up, while we navigate these unchartered waters.
Reduce Your News and Social Media Consumption
With many of us spending more time at home, either working from there, on an absence from work or being asked to stay indoors depending on where in the world we are, the temptation is to curb our anxiety by reading the news. Not once a day, but ALL day. It's so tempting to wake up in the morning and check it right away. Be mindful that news is there to inform and to shock us, and that many publications will do what they can to grab your attention with a sensationalist headline. Discern!
Similarly, a lot of us are checking the coronavirus case trackers and watching anxiously as the count goes up each day. Perhaps, you’re also finding yourself scrolling endlessly on social media, looking at photos of acquaintances and celebrities. All of this is not great for our mental health, so start by setting some limits for yourself. Set up a Google alert for the virus, even one that is tailored to your country, and then you’ll receive a daily email with the news. 30 minutes a day is more than enough to stay in the loop, promise. Take as much of a break from social media during this time as you can. You’ll start to feel better in no time, I promise.
Rather than the conventional sit in form of the TV, now is also the time where we can have those family games and meals and get to do those things we haven’t had time for. Let’s make good memories from here. Let’s make good food, share our good spirits, let’s garden, let’s puzzle, let’s read, let’s paint, let’s play indoor table tennis without the table, let’s get creative, let’s stay healthy, let’s stay as happy as we can.
Check Yourself: How Much Water Are You Drinking?
Next, have a think about the last 48 hours. If you’ve been at home, like me, you may have neglected your water drinking habits somewhat without even realising it. I carry a water bottle around with me pretty much all the time, and it’s amazing how little I have to refill it while I’m at home, compared to when I’m out and about. Perhaps it’s because we have easy access to juice, coffee, tea etc. at home.
You may even be tempted to start to replace water with fizzy drinks, especially if you’re ordering groceries and looking for some comfort. In this situation, remember to “check yourself before you wreck yourself”. Get up right now and have two glasses of water if this is the case. Make a point to have a glass of water (maybe even warm water) as soon as you wake up in the morning, and a little before each of your meals during the day. You’ll feel way more nourished.
Increase Self Care with Just 10 Minutes a Day
For many of us, the opportunity to go to the gym, or do our usual morning jog is no longer viable. In places like Argentina, the police are patrolling the streets and threatening to arrest people who are out of the house for non essential reasons. This could soon be a reality in many more places around the world. So how do you keep your self care routine going should you also be in this situation? Easy. Put 10 minutes aside for it each morning when you wake up.
This can be as simple as putting the time aside to write down a list of things you’re thankful for that morning, doing a short meditation (always a winner) or just deciding to cut and paint your toenails! Self care should not be a chore and is best served when it is a regular feature in your day. I recently wrote a Daily Bliss eBook to help you get started with this as a gift to help you along, especially if it’s never been a part of your day to day. It’s never been more important for us to look after ourselves than it is now.
Connect With Others, By Any Means Possible
Humans are wired for connection, and social interaction is said to be one of the primary tenets of a happy life. By being isolated, especially if we don’t live with anyone else, over time it can affect our mental health in a detrimental way. If you’re starting to feel more unsettled, this is a sign to step away from the Netflix marathon of Love is Blind (although yes, it’s hard to stop watching the Barnett, Jessica and Amber drama unfold), and to seek some human interaction instead.
If you’re living with someone, and they’re not at risk or ill, ask for a hug. Phone that family member for that long overdue catch up. Talk to your friends about a weekly “date” where you all make a cup of tea and Skype or watch a show together. WhatsApp your neighbour and ask them if they’re OK. Check in with that colleague from work who always makes a point to greet you in the morning at the office and might need the hello more than you do. These small steps will have you feeling more rejuvenated, connected and kind, especially while we remain unsure about lockdown and how long we’ll be doing our part to even out the curve of new infections.
Move Your Body, Indulge Your Mind
Last but not least, in times of uncertainty and heightened anxiety, nothing helps more than keeping your body moving. While we’ve lost a lot of traditional ways to get active, like walking or doing a Parkrun, there are ways you can still stay active while at home. If you’ve got a garden, wonderful. Use it! Take yourself back to your childhood days, and explore, run around, do some jumping jacks, or dust off the old skipping rope, or even try bodyweight wokrouts. If you’re in an apartment, start by stretching. Do it right after your meditation in the morning.
Next up, Google some exercise ideas you can do from home, and start with a basic routine of just a couple of minutes. I’ve also started up a Yoga From Home series in the Hub on my website, which will not only help your body, but your mind and soul too. Taking care of yourself is not about overdoing it. Baby steps will help tremendously in getting through all of this.
The Power of the Global Community
There is no greater community than the global one, and we stand 7.7 billion people strong in the fight against COVID-19. Over and above the basic education about the virus, ensuring you’re getting information directly from the World Health Organisation and other reputable sources, and educating yourself about the ways to stop the spread of the disease (wash those hands thoroughly while you sing the chorus of your favourite song, yes), can make a world of difference.
It is also a time where we are being tested as individuals, and our health (mental, physical & spiritual) is on the line now more so than ever before. By following the simple steps I’ve outlined today, you can gently start to navigate back to your equilibrium when you start to feel somewhat unsettled, while not feeling like you have to be extra hard on yourself, and take drastic measures. The last thing you need is more pressure. Cut yourself some slack, and do the best that you can. It’s OK to be scared, and as I said: You’re not alone in this.
One day at a time is the way to go. Reach out if you need additional support, and remember that this too shall pass. Sending lots of love to you until then.