Uncertain times like this COVID-19 pandemic can pose a great threat to our mental health. While we're fortunate enough to be able to live comfortably and safely at the confines of our homes, we're not exempted from the torments of our stress and anxiety. Below, I listed down six practical things that help me manage my stress and anxiety in the hopes that these, too, can help you with yours.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
No, you're not oversensitive nor overreacting. In extraordinary times like this, your feelings of uneasiness and restlessness are valid. Don't disregard the burden you feel because they're indeed real. And as you accept these emotions, it helps to also differentiate the things that you can and cannot control.
What to do: Focus on things that you can act upon right now, things that will keep you in touch with your new reality instead of dwelling on your fears of the unknown. "Try not to catastrophize; instead focus on what you can do and accept the things you can't change," the American Psychological Association advices. They also suggest to try keeping a journal that will help you process your emotions, too. In my case, I jot down on my phone three things I am grateful for every day when I wake up. It really put things in perspective and can have a great influence on how you go about your day.
2. Create a daily schedule.
I am fortunate enough to be working from home. However, from experience, I know it's easy to get distracted or risk overworking that may lead to burnout. To help ground you, the American Psychological Association suggests that you follow a daily schedule or routine. "Maintaining a daily routine can help both adults and children preserve a sense of order and purpose in their lives despite the unfamiliarity of isolation and quarantine."
What to do: If you're working from home, set strict working hours. If you're clocking in at 9 a.m. and logging of at 7 p.m., make sure you follow through. Set hard boundaries that you won't be answering e-mails after 7 p.m. so you can have a sense of daily flow (meaning you're not trapped in work mode all day), allowing you to have a better handle of your time, energy, and mental space.
3. Keep yourself fit.
Staying on a positive mindset should be accompanied by a healthy body, too. Don't fall trap into living a sedentary lifestyle. If you're feeling under the weather, consult online with a doctor to help keep your immune systemâ up—a crucial need during this pandemic.
What to do: Get some sleep, eat on time, hydrate, meditate, and go for a stretch. Make time to take care of yourself.
4. Monitor your phone usage.
I am utterly guilty of being glued to my phone 24/7, seven times a week. It is exhausting and stressful so I'm trying to wean away from this unhealthy habit. I have to admit it is difficult, particularly now, when it's the only window you have to the outside world. But that doesn't mean it cannot be done.
What to do: In line with having a daily routine, incorporate a no-phone time an hour before bed so you can unwind. Another hack that you can do is to set aside a specific time when you'll check news. Being a writer, I'm deeply immersed into current events, and it's something that I can't avoid when I open my feed. So, on weekends, I only actively look for news an hour a day to help manage stress that comes from knowing what's out there.
5. Do something else.
My everyday work load is a welcome distraction that I have every day. But after work hours, I am left to my own devices, and my mind runs wild with worry. If I don't catch myself, it can send me to a downward spiral that dampen my spirits that makes it harder for me to sleep at night and wake up the next day. This can easily demotivate me to work, too. So I lined up tiny but productive distraction techniques that can help my mind off of things.
What to do: Read a book. Take a free online course. Yes, binge-watching Netflix is also acceptable. Learn how to cook your fave K-drama food. Do laundry. Reorganize your closet. Deep clean your space. Doodle or paint. Plan your path to Tiktok stardom. The key is to give your 100 percent focus on the task at hand. Not only will you distract yourself from worries, you'll also feel accomplished, too.
6. Check in with your friends.
Social distancing doesn't mean you have to fully isolate yourself from other people.
What to do: Take advantage of the technology available to us right now like FaceTime, video calls, or even just having a Netflix party! Continue connecting with people, albeit virtually—you'll see a huge lift in your mood (and theirs) once you reconnect with your loved ones and friends you haven't seen in a while.