It is common to feel stressed or anxious during this time. It may be especially hard for people who already manage feelings of anxiety or emotional distress. For example, for those of us with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), public health recommendations about contamination and hand washing may make it more difficult to manage our symptoms. Recognising how you’re feeling can help you care for yourself, manage your stress and cope with difficult situations. Even when you don’t have full control of a situation, there are things you can do. Below are some points to help how to maintain healthy social connections and and look after yourself.
Manage how you consume information: • Equip yourself with information from credible, reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). • Be selective about how you consume news. It’s generally a good idea to stay engaged and informed. • Having some limits on your news consumption can help: • Watching or listening to the same news constantly can increase stress. • Reading can be an easier medium to control how much and what kind of information you’re absorbing. • Set limits on when and for how long you consume news and information, including through social media. • It may help you to choose a couple of fifteen-minute blocks each day when you will check news/social media and limit your news consumption to that time. • False information spreads very easily on social media and can have serious consequences for individual and public health. • Always verify sources and make sure they are reputable, especially before sharing anything. • Follow healthy daily routines as much as possible
Your daily habits and routines can help you feel more in control of your own well-being. Even simple actions can make a difference such as:
• Make your bed • Get dressed • Connect with loved ones • Move your body • Make time for breaks • If possible, take regular short breaks during work or between shifts. • During these breaks, go outside and engage in physical activity if you can. • Practice good hygiene, especially by cleaning your hands • Prioritise sleep and practice.
Here are some recommendations for getting good sleep as getting enough regular sleep is critical for your immune system:
• Eat nutritious food as much as possible, especially fruits and vegetables
• Take care of yourself through exercise and movement • If you’re staying home, you may be less physically active than usual. It’s important to keep movement as part of your daily life, whether it’s exercise or light movement like stretching and making sure you’re not sitting down too long. • Exercise is a great way to care for your body. It is a powerful way to improve both your physical and mental health. • Research suggests that when we exercise, our brain releases chemicals that help us better manage stress and anxiety. • There are many different ways to exercise. Many of them are free, don’t require any equipment and can be done at home. • Most people can find an exercise routine that fits their needs and abilities. If you don’t typically exercise or have health concerns, you may want to talk with your primary care provider before starting a new activity.
Some ideas of how to move more: • Walk • Stretch • Dance • Do yoga • Do cardiovascular exercise as research suggests this helps with anxiety and sleep. If you have concerns about balance or joint health, ask your provider about low-impact cardio you can do at home. • Try free exercise videos on YouTube (yoga, dance exercises, Pilates, cardio, HIIT, etc.) • Do meaningful things with your free time When you can, do things that you enjoy and that help you relax. • Read a book/listen to an audiobook. Many public libraries’ websites offer free audiobooks. • Learn a new skill • Create art—draw, build something, etc. • Journal or write • Play puzzles or games • Take an online course—various free online courses available • Do tasks around your home. • Organize, do crafts, garden, rearrange your living space. • Cook something new with ingredients you have at home • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks Physical distancing (also called social distancing) can change how you usually interact with people you care about. Doing this is essential to lessening the impact of COVID-19. There are many ways you can build a feeling of connection, even if you can’t see people in person or go places you usually would: • Make sure you have the phone numbers and emails of close friends and family • Stay connected via phone, email, social media and video calls • Offer to help others if you can • Ask for help when you need it • Share how you’re feeling with people you trust • Regularly call, text or email with family and friends who may have more limited social contact—elderly people, those with disabilities, those who live alone, those who are quarantined or at high risk because of chronic health conditions • If talking about COVID-19 is affecting your mental health, set boundaries with people about how much and when talk you about COVID-19. Balance this with other topics you’d usually discuss. • If you are living with other people, communicate expectations about how to live well together while staying home • Do virtual activities together or Plan virtual dinners and coffee breaks
Mindfulness is a way of practicing awareness that can reduce your stress. It involves focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. It may also help people manage some mental health symptoms. Many medical organisations support mindfulness as a research-based way to lower your stress and boost your physical and emotional health.
Meditation can help you feel calmer and more relaxed - According to the National Institutes of Health, “Some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.”
Breathing exercises can help calm your body and your mind. These exercises often involve controlling and slowing your breath. They may be especially helpful in managing feelings of anxiety and panic.
If you would like assistance in understanding how Mindfulness, Meditation, Relaxation and Breathing techniques can promote better health and clarity of mind for you, then please do not hesitate to get in touch and I will be happy to be of help.