When COVID-19 first struck the world a few months ago – nobody expected it would be such a long-drawn issue. You had your plans for the summer, you had things to look forward to in 2k20….. none of this was part of our News Year’s Resolutions! So, now that we’re in the thick of everything, the global toll crossed 10 million last week, and #WorkFromHome doesn’t seem to be ending for many of us – it’s only natural to feel desolate.
If you, too, are battling with feelings of hopelessness or depression – we’re here to help you out. In this article, we give you 7 science-backed ways to battle stress and hopelessness in the age of COVID-19:
Acknowledge Your Anxieties – Don’t Dismiss Them
When your anxieties come springing up for whatever reason – one of the worst coping mechanisms you can adopt is to dismiss them. Casting away your anxiety won’t help. In fact, it might make things much worse. When you’re feeling anxious or worried, it’s crucial that you acknowledge the feelings. Delve into your thought process. Even have an uncomfortable confrontation with yourself. All of this will help you identify the root cause of your negative feelings. Journaling is a great way to kickstart this process. Set a little time aside everyday to just jot down whatever is going on in your head. Then, put away your journal and don’t look back at it till the next day. If writing isn’t your thing – you can use any form of creative expression that suits you. Painting, sketching, gardening – even dancing!
Stay Active, and Eat Healthy
The gym closing down doesn’t mean you can’t work out anymore! There’s a huge variety of home workout videos out there that you can follow to stay active. Core workouts, yoga, calisthenics – there’s a whole lot you can do without needing gym equipment. If exercising isn’t your thing – just get outside (with a mask on) and take a walk in your neighborhood.
It’s also equally important to eat healthy during this time. If you’re finding yourself to be a stress eater, make sure to set some restrictions on what and when you’re eating. If you tend to not when you’re stressed – set some reminders to make you eat. Try to cut the junk out as much as possible, and stick with healthy as natural foods.
Don’t Miss Out On Sleep
This one seems obvious – but the importance of adequate sleep can not possibly be overstated. It’s crucial that you’re getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep a day. With all the gadgets accompanying you to your bed – it’s possible you’ll be staying up too late just scrolling through Instagram. This kind of disruption to your sleep can be extremely harmful.
Even if your routine is totally messy and uprooted – make sure there’s no compromise on the amount of sleep you’re getting. And yes, limit your use of electronics at night, no matter how addictive your habit is!
Don’t Get Hooked On The News
Sure, it’s important to stay in touch with everything that’s going around. But do you really need to tune in every single hour? Your mental health will absolutely be affected if you don’t limit your consumption of news stories. Tuning in once or twice a day is enough. You won’t miss out on some crucial news, trust us!
Instead of fixating on the news too much – try to consume all the positive, uplifting content you can find. Even if it gets too cheesy at times!
Practice Mindfulness & Meditation
Meditation is a highly effective way to stay grounded in the present moment – especially when you’re troubled by negative thoughts. It helps improve your sleep, calm your mind, and harbors positivity in your thinking.
If you’re just getting started on meditation, you can make use of Apps like Headspace and Calm for beginner exercises. Or you can take an online yoga class. Whatever helps you feel more in tune with your feelings!
Avoid Substance Use As Much As Possible
Just like comfort foods – you’ll feel the urge to indulge in substance use during this time. The temptation to smoke a cigarette or consume drugs/alcohol can be overwhelming when you’re more stressed out than usual. The problem is – none of these things provide a long-term solution. The more your body develops a tolerance, the more you’ll need to consume to get that high. If you end up overusing any substance – you can end up with physical and emotional implications that even outweigh the risks of COVID-19!
Also keep in mind that smoking weakens the respiratory system, and that’s not a good thing given how COVID-19 progresses in the body. Whenever you feel a craving to indulge, find an alternative, healthy mental outlet.
Have A Structure To Your Day
OK, let’s be real, most of us are not cut out for the totally bohemian lifestyle that quarantine has forced us into. Not having any set routine for the day can contribute to the “lack of productivity” you might be feeling. The more idle time you have on your hands, the more negative thoughts can fester in your mind. If you’re struggling to stick to your routine, that’s OK. Make sure to take small improvements each day and be accountable to yourself.
If you’re currently working from home – set up a workspace, limit distractions as much as possible, and take regular breaks to stay focused. Write down your timetable and stick it on the fridge if that helps! All of this can help you get more productive in your daily life, and also create a boundary between your work life and your home life.
It’s true – living through 2k20 is harder than any of us anticipated, but don’t let hopelessness take away the joy in little things. Spend time with yourself, appreciate the extra time on your hand (if you do have it), and make sure you’re practising self care in the physical and emotional aspects of your life.
Mental Health In The Age Of COVID-19: 7 Ways To Cope With Hopelessness