How to Cope with Stress and Anxiety during Quarantine

While we are stuck at home all day, we don’t have much choice in whether we watch the news. It’s all around us; on social media, google search, TV and it’s all people are talking about. Sadly, as the news does far too well it’s making us scared, anxious, and it is also stressing our mind!  Our minds are being filled with unhealthy thoughts and lots of what if’s: “What if people start to get out of control?” “What would happen if I lost my job?” “What if this crisis doesn’t end soon?” and so on. 

But what if, during this quarantine, we focus our minds and try to think differently? Allow your mind to rest. Because if you think about it, if we weren’t under quarantine, we still might be stressing ourselves on our work and other daily struggles. Let’s face it, if you’re anything like us you were probably working super hard with your usual hustle-and-bustle which was leading you to feel tired and drained anyway. Weekends often feel like they are not enough to get some rest and get prepared for another challenging week.  Some of us even tend to take home our work on weekends. So during this quarantine, let’s use this time to change our behavior and adopt some healthier habits! I know it’s not easy, but practicing now will help us!  Dr. Jennifer Yip, an Executive Director from Renewed Freedom Center for Rapid Anxiety Relief, will help us on how to cope with stress and anxiety. 

1. Get Dressed!

So this might seem like a silly one, but let’s all admit that we have been spending a lot of time in our PJ’s.  There’s no shame in it, we’re doing it too!  But let’s face it, that getting dressed up makes us feel good and look good!  The old saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” is super relevant right now to help with your mental health.  Not because you’ll have a video chat with our colleagues but because it gives us the reason to get up and feel good about ourselves. If we are in our pajamas all day, then subconsciously we are likely to feel unmotivated, lay all day, and that may lead to us thinking of unhelpful and unhealthy thoughts. You might think that putting your pants on is funny because you don’t have any reasons to wear them, then let’s make a reason!

2. Set Up a Routine

This is the most important we’ve learned after 4 years of “working from home”, if you don’t set a routine your days can quickly get out of hand!  Being quarantined doesn’t have to be so boring, you may not have control outside but you have complete control in your own space. This is the reason to take off your pajamas! You can start by visualizing the things you want to do from the moment you wake up until the time you’re off to sleep. In the morning you can meditate or exercise and wear your workout clothes, eat good and healthy meals, and do your work (if you work from home). And then in the afternoon, you can take a good nap, cook, or something that you don’t usually do on a regular basis. 

My personal morning routine is I do an online workout every morning in our lounge area at 7:30am.  I’ll have a health drink before psyllium husk, fossil shell and probiotics, then do 5 – 10 minutes of meditation while practicing Wim Hof breathing.  I have a cold shower after this and then make myself a coffee and feed our 3 cats.  Then I spend half an hour preparing for my work day, reviewing my calendar and prioritising my work!  I’m not sharing this to humble brag – although I’m very proud of my routine thanks for asking – but to show you an example of how and why this helps keep me on track with my health, my work and start my day the right way!

Make sure you do this routine consistently because it will help you to know what is going to happen next. This will allow you to focus on things that are actually in your control. 

An American author, keynote speaker, and success coach, Hal Elrod, wrote the book “Miracle Morning”. You can start your day by following the Miracle Morning – SAVERS – which stands for Silence, Affirmation, Visualizing, Exercise, Reading and Scribing in the first 2 hours of your day and the rest of the day can be very productive.

3. Worry (but in moderation)

Worry means dealing with uncertainty, and we are living in an uncertain situation right now. According to Psychologists, it is also important for your mental health to allow yourself time to worry – but only for 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes only. They call it the 15-minutes worry time. It is literally just the practice of taking a pencil and paper and writing what you’re worried about in 15 minutes. You are only allowed to worry during that window otherwise it’ll not make a difference. Between worry times, tell yourself to let go of those thoughts until the next worry time.  My mantra has always been if you can’t change it, why worry about it?

Also, limit your time watching the news – including social media – as much as possible.  Try not to exceed one hour a day, or cut it out entirely!  I learned in university that the average news station will air 17 negative news segments to every 1 positive story.  Just like you are what you eat, your thoughts become your reality!  By exposing your mind to negative news too much, you are being conditioned and programmed to see the world negatively.  Limiting your exposure to the news to less than one hour can greatly reduce your stress and anxiety. If you’re having trouble sleeping, studies have shown that keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet and staying off-screens and practicing mindfulness before bedtime can promote good sleep. This will prevent you from over-thinking and worrying before sleeping.

4. Easily irritated and angry? Be social!

Being frustrated during these times is normal but if you don’t manage these frustrations, it could affect your relationship with your family or friends during this time that we need to rely on them the most. So be social through all the amazing online channels we have available to us! Talking to someone can not just calm your thoughts, but it helps take the feelings out from inside of yourself. Venting is like a pressure cooker: if you don’t open the lid periodically, the pressure can build up and can cause you to feel even more stressed. It can help you process whatever it is you’re worried about.  Take time to decompress and share with your loved ones or friends how you’re feeling!

5. Set Goals! (Quarantined Resolutions)

Since some of our New Year’s Resolutions got a bit postponed, we can still turn them into Quarantined Resolutions! Remember when we’re still on our day to day hustle-and-bustle, we always wanted to do something that we can’t due to our work, we always say, “If only I had more time” “if only there are more hours in the day”, right? Then, here you go! You have plenty of time now at your home. You can finish the projects that you set aside before, read that book on the shelf, start that hobby that you always wanted, and you can even learn a new skill. In that way, you’re allowing your mind to wander into something else.  Remember, make the most of the time that you have.

Takeaways

(1)Get up, (2) Look good, (3) Let go, (4) Talk to someone, (5) Make it happen. These are just a few ways to help stave off anxiety and stress and the goal is to preserve your mental health. Know that you are not alone in this fight – we are all in this together.

Sources: Washington Post, Refinery 29, Daily Targum, Health Psych

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