The coronavirus pandemic has left all of us under a lot of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Here’s our guide on how to cope in these chaotic times.
The coronavirus pandemic is a sensitive yet important topic to talk about. It has affected all of us in one way or the other. People lost their jobs, businesses were forced to shut down, millions died, the educated system was compromised, the stock market took a hit, and so much more.
It wouldn’t be a shot in the dark to say that all of this combined has led humanity into what we’d like to call a global soul-sickness.
People are tired, afraid, stressed, anxious, and lonely, understandably so. What each of us needs in these uncertain times is reassurance, kindness to ourselves, and healthy ways to cope.
How isolation leads to mental sickness
Human beings are social creatures and explorers by nature. We are not built to live in isolation. And yet, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to stay inside our homes without getting to interact in person with people apart from our immediate family.
As a consequence, this extreme social isolation has contributed to our mental sickness. In fact, it was found that social isolation leads to about a 50% increased risk of dementia.
Now, of course, we can’t all resume back to our normal lifestyle and start meeting each other again just yet. What we can do, instead, is learn and practice healthy ways to cope with our negative feelings and thoughts.
5 ways to manage stress in times of crisis
Amongst all the chaos happening in the world right now because of the pandemic, it’s certainly no surprise, but rather understandable, if you currently happen to be in a bad place mentally. We’re here to help. The following are some of the best ways to cope in the uncertain times of pandemic.
1. Make meditation a habit
Meditation is perhaps one of the best ways, if not the best way, to learn how to stay calm and composed in times of crisis. It teaches us the art of self-control. This includes being able to manage and guide your attention, control your emotions, give direction to your thoughts, become more present, and extend your attention span and focus.
Now, since not all of us are trained monks, we need guidance on how to meditate effectively. Luckily, meditation apps like Black Lotus can help. Founded by Om Swami, an esteemed Indian monk, and international bestselling author, Black Lotus makes meditation easier via simple practices that help reduce stress and become mindful.
With its unique R.A.R.E. (Reflect. Act. Reinforce. Evaluate) framework, it helps achieve tangible results such as developing mental clarity, improving relationships, controlling anger, practicing gratitude, and becoming kinder and happier. Do check it out!
2. Exercise consistently indoors
Exercising consistently is perhaps the quickest way to get out of a rut. Why? Because it triggers the release of endorphins. Simply put, endorphins are hormones produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. This is even more relevant now considering how a lot of us have been really physically inactive since the pandemic began.
Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can boost endorphin production in your body and help make you feel better, less stressed, more active, and happier. Don’t worry if you don’t have gym equipment at home. Simple body exercises will do the trick just fine!
3. Stick to a routine to sleep better
A lot of people have reported insomnia and disturbance of their sleep cycles in the pandemic. And a big reason why this is so is that we haven’t been following our daily schedule as we used to before the pandemic. Our bodies have an internal clock that regulates our hormones. These hormones make us feel certain urges.
In this case, melatonin is the hormone responsible for controlling our sleep-wake cycle. If we deviate from our schedule long enough, this cycle is disturbed as our body tries to recalibrate a new internal clock. Deviate from that internal clock several times, and insomnia can turn from short-term (acute) to long-term (chronic).
This then leads to feelings of dizziness throughout the next day because of a lack of quality sleep and affects our productivity, relationships, and happiness. The solution to this is rather simple. Stick to a routine. The more disciplined you are about your routine, the more your body will consolidate an internal clock and follow it.
4. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, gambling, smoking, overeating, under-eating, self-criticizing, becoming violent, chewing tobacco, substance abuse, caffeine addiction, and more are all a big no-no. Not only do these not work in the long-term, but they are also dangerous to your health and can make matters worse.
Coping mechanisms shouldn’t be addictive. They should be reliable. Some examples of healthy coping mechanisms that can help reduce stress are journaling, listening to music, reading books, talking to friends, going to therapy, playing with pets, indulging in creative arts, gardening, cleaning the house, playing games, and asking for emotional support from loved ones.
5. Express feelings and vulnerabilities
Expressing one’s honest feelings and vulnerabilities is an act of bravery. It can help build new relationships, strengthen old ones, and develop a sense of belongingness amongst people. However, it can sometimes be a difficult thing to do for some people due to social anxiety and awkwardness.
The advice we find really helpful is to congratulate and reward yourself for small achievements like accepting an invitation to a party and showing up, answering a phone call, checking up on your old friends, sharing your feelings and fears with your loved ones, calling in sick at the office if you’re unwell, and so on.
Thank you for reading this guide. We hope you found it useful and enlightening. Remember to prioritize your mental health and treat yourself like you would treat a friend. Show kindness and compassion to the parts of yourself you are not proud of. And above all, have patience.