The COVID-19 pandemic has brought shock, confusion, disbelief and an array of opinions on what people were up against. At first, Americans saw other countries struggling to keep up with the increasing numbers of ill people and the medical systems not having the resources to help enough people at the same time. While the U.S. hoped this would not be its story, COVID-19 has become an intense battle here, as well.
After coping with the first spell of the pandemic, India has become the centre for severe 2nd wave case where it is being seen to rise in geometric progression. The pandemic has caused mental strain for many people across the world. And for those living with anxiety and depression, the impact is harsh.
Living through a stressful situation, such as financial insecurity, family upheaval, trauma, loss, or of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic can certainly be a trigger for worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety. For folks already managing their anxiety and/or depression, life stressors can tip the balance from healthy functioning to poor mental health.
Negative life events are the number one trigger that causes relapse or a worsening of symptoms of anxiety and depression. The most commonly reported experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulty with motivation to eat healthy and exercise, which are two important factors for alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms.
5 strategies to handle anxiety during this pandemic.
1. Establish Routine.
Many daily routines have changed due to COVID-19. Routine and structure can be helpful and calming. Create a new normal with some practical and enjoyable tasks to become more resilient to chaos and change. Mindfully create a daily and weekly flow of events, such as starting your morning with a relaxing cup of tea or coffee, or breakfast. Other ideas include making a list of projects that you have wanted to accomplish, reading inspirational writings and journaling to record your thoughts, hopes, emotions and concerns.
Regular exercise, meditation and movement helps release built-up fight-or-flight energy. Using bigger muscle movements can help release this energy so you feel calmer. Also, exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals in the brain. Try jumping jacks, pushups, walking, running, chopping wood, swimming or lifting weights. Even cleaning the house or moving heavy boxes are good big-muscle exercises. Stretching and yoga also are helpful in reducing stress.
3. Stay connected Virtually.
Reaching out to loved ones is important and can be done through phone calls, texting, emailing and video calls. Consider hosting virtual meetings with your loved ones. Human connection can lower stress and anxiety levels, and build camaraderie. In the current scenario you can also make videocalls, whatsapp call or can hold group meetings through Zoom, Meet, Team or Skype. There are numerous ways through which you can remain in touch with your loved one without being in actually near them.
4. Look for the good.
Acknowledge and accept that the good and bad are often adjacent in the same moment in life. A person can be sad about one thing but be aware that there’s goodness and happiness in the same moment about another thing. Intentionally look for those good things. Whatever thoughts we feed grow so it can help to purposefully think hopeful, realistic and problem-solving thoughts. Look at the beauty amid the difficulties in life.
5. Reach out
Everyone is in this together, and that is a comfort. You are not alone. If you feel alone, don’t be silent. Instead, reach out to a friend or health care professional. Many people are feeling the same way. If you communicate your hopes and fears, and listen to others, it divides the burden and increases the connection. This decreases the sense of isolation and anxiety.