I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about “these times.”
They’re uncertain, they’re unprecedented, but most of all, they’re stressful. And when you’re put in positions of stress, you need efficient ways to cope.
So here are our 10 tips for dealing with pandemic stress:
1. Don’t be afraid to indulge
When confronted with stress, our first reaction is usually to retreat to the things that we know and love. Binging that TV series a third time, putting down a pint of ice cream, ordering takeout for the fifth night in a row.
Our second reaction, at least for some, is to stop ourselves. Indulging in these things is bad for us, and if we did it all the time, we’d start to get less and less healthy.
But in times like these, when you’re constantly staying indoors, dealing with economic stress and avoiding social interactions all at the same time, it’s best to be kind to yourself.
Most of us can’t hold ourselves to the same standards during periods of intense stress and that’s okay, so let the guilt go and treat yourself.
2. …but don’t forget to take care of yourself.
While indulging in sweets and TV will make you feel good in the short term, continuing to take care of your body will help your mental state in the long term.
Regular activity is a must to retain your sanity in conditions like these. For example, exercise will help you settle into a routine, and that sense of normalcy will help anchor you. The physical health benefits will also translate into mental health benefits.
Feeling good physically will naturally make you feel good emotionally, as it will keep all your insides running in tip top shape.
Let’s face it. The news is distressing. And while it’s good to be informed on what’s happening in the country, there is such a thing as too much.
If you’re just sitting at home right now, endlessly refreshing Twitter, stop and think about it. Is this productive? Or am I just making myself feel worse about my situation?
Sometimes it’s important to take a break. After all, you can’t be the most productive, most helpful version of yourself if you’re too stressed to function. Block out some time in your day to put the phone away, and do something analog. Go for a walk, read a book, play with your dog.
4. Pick up a new hobby
Quarantine and “stay at home” orders actually have a few upsides. Chief among them, ample free time.
While you’re welcome to use that time anyway you wish, you’ll likely be bored of whatever it is you chose eventually. Once you’ve gotten over the novelty of near limitless free time, you might be looking for something a little more challenging.
The best part of this tip is, the number of hobbies available to you are just as limitless as your free time. Pick up a musical instrument, start painting, write that screenplay, or pick up kickboxing.
So, this tip isn’t quite as open ended as some of the other ones, but meditation is one of the proven methods of reducing stress.
Since 1500 BCE, man has been meditating in some way or another. This is one of the lowest investment methods on this list, as there are many free resources online for learning meditation. All you need is a smartphone and you can be meditating within the next 10 minutes.
6. Get plenty of rest
When all normal rules of society go out the window, it can be easy for your sleep schedule to deteriorate. Staying up till 2, 3, even 4 in the morning becomes more commonplace than we’d like.
Believe it or not, a steady sleep schedule is a major part of mental stability. While it’s normal for your bedtime to skew a little later in times like these, perhaps limit yourself to midnight, or 1 AM.
7. Have a spa day
Everyone deserves a little R&R. What better time to treat yourself to a spa day than during a pandemic?
And sure, you can’t go out to a real spa, but why should that stop you? Grab yourself a bath bomb, some face masks, cucumber slices and a bathrobe, and you’ve got a readymade spa day.
8. Reach out
Interacting with friends and loved ones is a crucial part of keeping up your mental health.
Humans are social animals by nature, and social deprivation can be dangerous. So while you can’t go out and get brunch, you can (and should) ask your friends if they want to get together on a video conference and have a drink with you.
Chat about the realities of pandemic life, tell them about a book you just read, ask them how they’re coping, play long distance scrabble, the possibilities are endless.
9. Foster some cats
While this method may not be possible for everyone, fostering is a great win-win to take on during the pandemic.
You take in some adorable baby kittens, who keep you busy and entertain you throughout the quarantine. The kittens get a loving home in which to grow up, before being sent to whoever adopts them. While this is a fairly high commitment option, local organizations are often happy to provide help, and it can feel very rewarding.
10. Have the right mentality
Living through a pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. While that’s an ugly truth, acknowledging it is the best thing to do to help keep your sanity.
Understand that this may drag on for a while longer, and prepare yourself for a slog. Doing this will put you in the right state of mind to stay on top of any problems that present themselves, and will help you stay realistic about what you’re in for.
Yes, this is a very stressful time. But if you’re willing to look at it the right way, you’d be amazed at how simple it is to push through it.
If you’re struggling to cope and nothing seems to help, get professional help.
It’s okay to “not be okay.” While many professional therapists might not be seeing clients in-person, there are still options for getting professional help.