Lots of things have changed over the last year — the amount of time we spend with our friends and families, our sudden obsession with Animal Crossing or even the absurd amount of commercials and advertisements from large corporations making millions a day with the saying, “We’re here for you.”
But sadly what’s really had an effect on many of our lives is the increase in accounts of serious anxiety and personal stress. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that around 4 in 10 U.S. adults are experiencing serious amounts of tension and restlessness, increasing from 1 in 10 U.S adults in 2019.
Another study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, through the use of a Health Tracking Poll, found that many were having issues eating, sleeping or escalation of substance abuse and alcohol consumption.
It’s normal to feel upset and robbed of time, experiences and many things we’re unable to participate in because of this global pandemic. The studies mentioned above highlight that feelings of panic, frustration and loss are expected — but it doesn’t make living in this any easier.
We understand it can be challenging to incorporate anything into our already busy lives, but some of the steps mentioned below can really help lessen the burdens that COVID-19 has placed upon us.
Stick with Trusted Resources
Don’t get your info on Facebook or other platforms that purposefully provoke fear. There are plenty of great reliable websites that provide honest information. The CDC is regularly updating any news regarding COVID-19, its different strains and the vaccine.
It’s also important to regularly check both your state and county government in regards to who is eligible for the vaccine.
Ground Yourself with Things You Can Control
We may be unable to change the fact that we’re living within this pandemic, but we can control a plan of action and prepare for obstacles. Try writing lists or procedures for if there's ever an emergency or what to do if you or someone you know contracts the virus.
Organizing and preparing for events that could happen during these times can help someone feel more in control of their surroundings. Even redecorating can help someone feel more accepting towards these monumental changes and fears.
Try incorporating rules like clothing must be changed as soon as someone enters the home or mail must be sanitized before it’s opened. Simple things like this can ease the burden of shutting yourself completely from the outside world.
Meditation, Exercise and Sunshine
Now, when we think of exercise there might be thoughts of running or weightlifting, but really it just means taking some time for your body. Forgetfulness, loss of motivation and sleeplessness are all severe conditions of anxiety.
This is where phototherapy, or light therapy, comes to play. Like how many can experience seasonal depression when there is a lack of sunlight, the same goes for if you have little contact with the outside. Breathing in fresh air — even if behind a mask — still can offer so many health benefits.
Try this 10-minute meditation for anxiety when in need of a little more guidance. -
For those who are unable to go outside or have little to no sunlight entering the home, try a light therapy lamp that replicates UV rays and provides the mind with a little bit of serotonin. While some can be pretty expensive, here is an affordable and portable option.
Zoom is now an everyday staple of life! While a lot of it is used for educational and work purposes, people are finding creative ways to use Zoom to keep in touch with friends and families. On social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, there have been viral trends showcasing clever ideas — one of which is the “PowerPoint Night.”
Create a funny PowerPoint and present it in front of family, roommates or on zoom with friends. These “parties” can have themes or just random subjects that you find interesting. Either way, this distanced activity has fueled many connections and funny stories!
Technology has provided most of the world with the ability to feel connected with each other and to have some type of normalcy. There are also extensions like Netflix Party, Scener and TwoSeven that allow for group watch parties online. While we aren’t able to visit the theater, movie nights can still happen with one of these fun extensions.
Relieve Tension with Creativity
This could be baking, painting, writing, making candles, whittling — as long as it gives you the ability to work either with your hands or express yourself freely. YouTube has many great channels for learning how to start new hobbies. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sew or make homemade lasagna, now’s the time to do so!
The more time you spend feeling accomplished and proud of learning something new is less time stressing about the future. Maybe it is a little bit of a distraction, but sometimes dozing off into a task is a perfect way to give your brain a break from any stress.
There are many ways to cope with the stress that’s come with all these rapid changes within our society. Please remember that if these become serious issues that you aren’t able to cope with, medical counselors and professionals are always the recommended choice.
Mental Health is always important but during times of extreme stress and panic, these challenges are crucial in treating. Hopefully, these tips can ease some of your stress and pain. Talking with someone who can guide you personally is a great option for many and for those unable to afford therapy, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a hotline that can give you referrals and information.
Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for information on how to get a therapist perfect for your needs.
And if you’re feeling suicidal or in need of immediate assistance, find your designated hotline at Suicide Stop.