Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Antoinette, who currently lives alone in her studio apartment since the pandemic has begun, tries to stay away as much as possible from the news. She still keeps herself updated by reading them, but she has to limit her exposure because after an hour or two of browsing and reading, she feels uneasy.
Don’t even get her started on reading comment threads on Facebook. That’s a whole other nightmare, she said.
“I don’t have a problem with staying at home by myself, or reading the news in general. But after a few weeks in isolation, I feel lonely. Whenever I think about the uncertainty, of what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week or next month, I find it hard to sleep, let alone concentrate,” related Antoinette.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, how a person responds to outbreaks can depend on their background and the community they live in. Older people and those with chronic diseases may react strongly to the stress of the crisis, as well as children and teens, healthcare providers and first responders, and people with mental health conditions.
Anxiety and fear are common reactions to diseases such as COVID-19, but there are ways to cope with stress during this time.
Take a break from the news
The CDC advises turning off any sources of news for the meantime, including social media, as “hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.” Doesn’t feel like moving or doing something else? No problem. Breathe, meditate, sleep—all you need is a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on yourself. Experts say let thoughts come to you, then let them pass.
If you want to try meditation, check out free meditation apps for beginners and soothing music online to help get you started.
Take care of yourself
Find a way to stay active while at home—it doesn’t have to be a rigid exercise, although that’s not a bad idea, it could be something as simple as stretching or lifting weights or jumping jacks—that will suit your level and preference. Look for exercise videos or tutorials online for guidance and motivation. A boost of happy hormones after exercising is guaranteed.
Another way of taking care of yourself is by eating healthy, well-balanced meals. There’s a reason why snack and comfort foods—which are mostly loaded with salt or sugar or fat—are on the rise during this time: they provide comfort and relief in times of crisis, “it’s a feel-good food,” a registered dietitian said in an interview with Today. It also helps that chips and chocolates and cookies are shelf-stable.
But while it’s not a crime to munch on chips, a healthy diet is particularly important today. With a virus as the enemy, a strong immune system is the best defense. Eat food items rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables. It helps to have a structure when eating; stick to eating meals twice or thrice a day, not six or seven times a day. Don’t overeat. Eat snacks mindfully; preferably, don’t eat from the bag. Take vitamins and drink lots of water. Sleep.
Do something else
To keep fear and anxiety from spiraling out of control, give yourself something else to do. Clean, declutter, and organize your things at home. Connect with loved ones online—creative ideas to do so include movie parties or playing online board games.
Better still, learn a new skill. Learn how to play a musical instrument, try to draw or write poetry, enroll in online classes, watch countless tutorials and courses on the web.
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